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Ads Fastforwarding over You

Tom Matrullo has discovered that ads written in Macromedia Flash 6 have the ability to peer into our rooms via our computers’ microphones and webcams. You have to set your Flash 6 settings to permit this, and it’s probably just part of Macromedia’s attempt to turn Flash into a ubiquitous multimedia platform (best of all: it’s not from Microsoft), but the very capability is scary in a world of highly-motivated corporate and government hackers.

A few days ago, I blogged a note in Linux World about the technical ability to turn speakers into microphones. I find the discovery of surveillance-ware inside of Flash much more disconcerting. As they say on the Macromedia home page: “Over 97.8% of all web users have the Macromedia Flash Player.”

6 Responses to “Ads Fastforwarding over You”

  1. What’s worst is that Flash is sneaky hard to get rid of, even if you want to. On Windows, anyway. I really had to hunt. And as best I can tell most browsers don’t offer an obvious way to disable it.

  2. That makes ad-free subscriptions, such as, much more appealing.

  3. Hi David, please note that the original poster was in error. More info’s back in the original threads, with the heaviest concentrations in the comments at

    Recap: If a site wishes to open a connection to your cam, you must explicitly give permission for it to do so.

    John Dowdell
    Macromedia Support

    PS: Yahoo! Daypop’s back!! 8)

  4. PPS: Dorothea, if you’re trying to uninstall Flash, search the Macromedia site with “uninstall flash”. Will pull it right up.


  5. John, I stand by my posting. It says “You have to set your Flash 6 settings to permit this…”

  6. True David, and I can stand by mine too, because “the original poster was in error”…. ;-)

    Seriously, I’m glad you put that phrase about “you have to give it permission” in there. I’m also concerned about the spread of this story itself, however.

    But hey, holidays are usually a slow news week, so maybe we need something to get riled up about…?


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