Adobe has several commonplace programs out that you more than likely already have on your computer. These are primarily Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader. Flash is very prevalent on the Internet, with many websites having Flash components, Flash games or advertisements, and Flash-based tool sets. Reader allows you to open and view PDFs (Portable Document Files) as well as load them online, using browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Adobe Reader integrates into these platforms and allow you to view forms and documents on the web.
It is vital that these programs remain up to date. As of the writing of this article, December 2013, the latest version of Adobe Reader is XI (11.0.04) [Windows Vista’s last version is Adobe Reader X] and the latest version of Flash is 11.9.900.170 (for most major systems). While it’s generally okay to be a couple of minor versions behind (for example, 11.9.900.122 or so on), you still should check to make sure you’re not too far behind. One of the reasons Adobe does these updates is to patch security holes in their software so you are not vulnerable to exploits or attacks that can damage your system.
At the time of writing, the easiest way to ensure your Flash player is working (and check what version) is to go to this link: http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/ This website checks your version and displays it in a little information box, then there’s a chart of the most up to date versions for different operating systems and browsers. As for checking Adobe Reader, just do a Google (or your favorite search engine) search for “Test PDF” and click a couple of the links. If they load, you should be fine.
If you don’t have Flash, or need to update it, (at the time of writing) the easiest link is to just go to http://get.adobe.com/flash and for Reader – if you need it or need to update, it is similarly: http://get.adobe.com/reader .
There are fake Adobe Flash updates out on the Internet. Read the screen carefully, and you can usually tell these aren’t real. The only time you should ever receive an update automatically is from Adobe, or the Adobe product itself. (Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe AIR – etc) These are usually windows that pop up when you turn your computer on (If you have it set to automatically search for updates, which is enabled by default) or on the bottom right of your desktop – unrelated to any Internet browser you are using. If it came up in a pop-up window or another tab, there’s a good chance it’s a virus or malware. If you see the request to update, and are not positive of your current version, download it from the adobe website: http://adobe.com or use one of the aforementioned links.
So just try to remember to check your Adobe products once in a while and don’t be fooled by a website advertisement telling you to get an update. These are some good simple steps to keeping your computer safe from attack and maintaining your PC’s health while making sure you are able to view and use common Internet resources.