Adobe Flash - How to disable and enable in IE 7 or IE 8

Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 9:02 PM by hwaldron

Idea During April, a hacking contest took place where Vista's security was compromised through Flash, rather than a weakness in it's own security controls.  As I don't have Flash installed on any of the complementary browsers I use (e.g., Firefox, Opera), I've been getting along without Flash in these environments fine.  I then reviewed the IE security options and found an easy way to easily disable or enable Flash as desired.  This specific approach doesn't work with IE 6 or earlier versions. 

Currently, a new massive attack has been launched where malicious SWF objects have been seeded on thousands of web sites (one estimate was that 250,000 web pages were infected).  Most of the current attacks can be stopped by moving to the latest version of Flash (9.0.124).  However AVERT and other AV vendors still investigating whether new exploits are being crafted that could possibly infect up-to-date systems.

The instructions below show how you can temporarily disable Flash until there's certainly all possible exploits have been patched.  As I like the setting to avoid Flash based advertising, I usually keep it set that way and turn it on occassionally when it's truly needed.

IE Settings - Disable/enable add-in services (e.g., Flash)

Star Tools >>> Internet Options >>> Program Tab >>> Manage add-on options button >>> Filters >>> Add-ons that run without requiring permission >>> Select Shockwave Object >>> Click Disable button at bottom

To re-enable Flash, all you need to do is follow the steps in green above and select Enable button in last step.  If desired, you can also disable Adobe PDF Reader and Windows Media Player from starting within IE.  They will still work properly in starting outside of IE if desired.  As the settings work like the Flash process noted in green above, these services can also be toggled back on if needed.

CAUTIONARY NOTES IN SETTINGS ABOVE:

1. Avoid making these changes unless you are familiar with IE settings and understand the technical steps noted in green.  

2. Avoid setting off other services as it could affect or break browser functions.

3. Flash might be used often in an email website or forum you might be posting frequently to, and the warning message could appear often.

4. The technical settings were specifically for IE 8 and they should work for IE 7. 

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