For years, Adobe Flash has been the staple of multimedia on the internet but its position is looking increasingly unstable after a raft of security concerns.

Flash is a piece of free software which plays things like videos and games on the web.

Websites have been heavily dependent on Flash for some time but rivals have popped up in recent years, leading a number of companies to jump ship.

The most recent has come from Google, who has announced that they'll phase out full support for Flash in its Chrome browser by the end of 2016.

Find out everything you need to know about this shift and what it means for your PC.

What’s happened to Flash?

Flash has had some security issues over the years, such as a malicious flaw that was discovered in June last year.

Adobe is releasing patches to fix the issues each time to keep it secure, but they keep on occurring – one was found on March 10 which addressed 23 separate security bugs.

An alternative solution called HTML5 has now come along which is supported by companies including Microsoft and Google.

It supports the same multimedia elements as Flash but without the mass of security issues. Web developers have begun moving across to HTML5 instead of Flash.

Is Adobe stopping Flash?

No, not completely, but it is giving content creators the tools to step away from Flash.

The company recently announced that the software for making Flash, Flash Professional CC, is being renamed to Animate CC. Adobe said it is changing what users can make with the software, to "encourage content creators to build with new web standards," such as HTML5.

The Flash content we currently experience isn't changing because of this move. Instead, this is acceptance from its owner Adobe that people are moving on and may not make Flash content forever.

Which sites now use HTML5?

Video streaming site YouTube swapped Flash for HTML5 in January. Other video streaming sites Dailymotion and Vimeo have done the same, while the BBC’s iPlayer is planning to follow next.

A number of web browsers have begun blocking Flash too - including Google Chrome, which will give up full support by the end of 2016.

What is my web browser doing about Flash?

Google Chrome and Firefox automatically block Flash plugins but allow users to click and reactivate them on a case-by-case basis - if you think they are trusted.

Google is actually planning to drop full support of Flash on Chrome by the end of 2016, only allowing it by default on 10 websites including it's own YouTube site, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. Google Chrome's technical lead Anthony Laforge announced the move on Google Groups.

Meanwhile, Flash is integrated with Microsoft Edge in Windows 10, and Internet Explorer 11.

Should I uninstall Flash?

Not right away, no. Some websites may not work if you uninstall it completely. Live streams – such as BT Sport – can only be delivered in Flash, so if you are a BT Sport customer you’ll want to keep Flash.

The safest way to keep using Flash to use a browser like Google Chrome or Firefox, which block Flash elements until you verify they are safe.

On Internet Explorer you can turn on ActiveX Filtering to block Flash content until you think it's safe. Go to Settings - Safety and then click on ActiveX Filtering.

When you have a site you trust, simply click the caution sign in the URL box and click the Turn off ActiveX Filtering button.

ActiveX

Do I need to install anything to use HTML5?

No, support for HTML5 is built into most of the big name browsers already, so you don't need to do anything.

How can I protect myself?

The best way to keep yourself safe with any online security threat is to have strong protection on your computer. Check out our guide Seven easy tips to protect your PC from hackers and malware to find out more.

BT Virus Protect is free for BT broadband customers.

Article updated: 16/05/2016