How to avoid malware attacks from fake Adobe Flash updates

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
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  • The fake Adobe Flash updates can produce malware infections on your PC.
  • Adobe Flash reached the end of life so you won't receive any more legitimate updates.
  • To avoid any problems, only download software from the official websites.
  • You can still use a Flash native support browser to open your content. 
Avoid malware attacks from fake Adobe Flash updates
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If you receive an unexpected message asking you to update your Adobe Flash Player, think twice before pressing the update button.

This is an old strategy used by hackers to install malware on your computer.

Unfortunately, their trick really works because the fact of using a reliable software developer’s name gives credibility to the update pop-up. And it’s not the first time. Users have experienced other fake pop-up update messages before.

The fake Adobe Flash Update window is extremely well-designed, leaving no reason for suspicion.

What is worse is that sometimes, the content of these fake update pop-ups is actually distributed through legitimate websites, which gives the illusion of legitimate-enough update windows.

According to users, the fake Adobe Flash Update often takes over your search engine, pop-ups various ad windows or slows down your computer.

How can I prevent malware attacks from fake Adobe Flash updates?

false adobe flash player update pop-up

Recently I have had four IE 11 pop-ups to a tab. three have asked me to install an IE 11 patch. The web address is not Microsoft. Today I received the same type of pop up but looking like adobe. Look at the web address. any ideas?

Adobe is aware of this issue, and has confirmed it uses strict and redundant security controls to make sure the software it ships is authentic. The company added it can’t do anything to stop these fake Adobe Flash update pop-ups as long as users are getting them from another source.

In general, humans are easier to defeat than modern software security.  Attackers will frequently design fake Flash Player update popups, and many even wrap totally legitimate Flash Player installers inside their malware distribution.  Sometimes they’re distributed on perfectly legitimate websites through fake ads, or bugs that allow attackers to post executable javascript.  As the user, you see a legitimate-enough looking dialog, click a button on a third-party website, it takes you to a random website with a download, and you get a working Flash Player with a side of malware.

Adobe pulled their support from Flash on December 31th 2020 so it’s impossible to get any legitimate update messages so if you receive such a invitation, you shouldn’t act on it.

How to avoid being tricked by fake Adobe Flash update pop-ups

  1. Always download the software directly from Adobe’s official website, and never follow links in pop-ups or emails.
  2. When installing the software/ the update, allow your computer to automatically perform the action for you.
  3. Use a browser that bundles Flash Player as a built-in component. The advantage is that the browser and the OS handle the updates, no separate download or installation is required.

If you’ve already clicked on the fake update invitation, run a full system scan and install one of the anti-hacking tools listed in our 10 best anti-hacking software for Windows 10 article.

Use a native Flash support browser

Flash is dead, and there is nothing to do about that. It’s not even recommended to use Flash any longer because it’s not secure anymore.

However, you might have some content lying around on your PC and you shouldn’t be deprived of it. If so, you can still use a browser that still offers native support for Flash.

We’re talking about Opera, a free and light browser that you can still use to open your Flash content. Moreover, this browser is fast and can offer more features than more popular browsers.

The built-in VPN service and the social media integration make the difference.



If you still have Flash content, you can open it with Opera, a fast and reliable browser available for free.

We hope that our advices helped you avoid any unpleasant situations. If you’ve had any trouble with this fake alerts, leave a comment in our section below.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in August 2016 and was revamped and updated in January 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.