Today (12 January 2021), the South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced on social media that they were experiencing problems with Adobe Flash Player.
Their Facebook post read as follows: “SARS is aware of certain forms not loading correctly due to Adobe Flash. We are currently working on resolving the matter and will advise once the problem has been resolved. We sincerely apologize for the current inconvenience”.
Cybersecurity and small business expert Hennie Ferreira said SARS must have been aware that Adobe would block Flash Player as of 12 January this year as it was announced more than three years ago.
According to Adobe’s website, the reason Flash Player is no longer supported is because it is outdated and no longer considered secure. “Adobe announced the end of Flash Player in 2017 already as it is susceptible to a variety of security issues, making it a target for cyber attacks. Yet, when SARS revamped their system in 2019, they continued using Adobe Flash Player,” Ferreira said.
On 2 December 2020, Adobe “strongly recommended that all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems”. Furthermore, Microsoft also announced that it would no longer provide security updates for Flash Player after December 2020.
“In the age of COVID-19, social distancing and remote working, tax practitioners, business owners and members of the public are unable to visit SARS offices and rely heavily on virtual systems to get things done. It seems the whole system has now ground to a halt,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira called on SARS to provide answers for their continued use of Adobe Flash Player. “It is unacceptable that we use outdated and insecure technology to run our country’s tax system,” Ferreira said.
In the interest of cybersecurity, Ferreira urged users not to download software claiming to be Flash Player from third-party websites, as it would likely be malware. “South Africans need to realize the importance of cybersecurity and make sure they educate themselves and protect themselves and their businesses,” he said.