The recent discontinuation of Adobe Flash caused a 20-hour collapse of a railroad system in Dalian, a city of six million in northern China.
A railroad system running on Flash – what can go wrong?
Though Adobe officially shuttered Flash at the turn of the year, it wasn’t until later in January that the Dalian railroad experienced a complete crash. Over the span of some half an hour, dozens of the city’s railroad stations reported similar failures, and all railway transport stopped. It was only after local technicians tried to debug this disaster that they realized Adobe pulled support for Flash several weeks earlier. It took around 20 hours for a local China Railway response team to activate a pirated copy of Flash and roll back the system to an earlier release version.
Flash was a widely adopted multimedia platform that powered a large portion of the Internet since the ’90s. But the sheer volume of security vulnerabilities plaguing it from the beginning eventually saw the platform replaced by HTML5. Adobe’s final decision to discontinue support for Flash came in 2017, though the company took until the very end of last year to fully wind down its development efforts. Then again, not even two and a half years were enough for the news of Flash’s imminent demise to reach every corner of the planet, as evidenced by this episode from the Far East.