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  • The Windows XP PC in question has the usual anti-virus and firewall precautions.
  • It has the most recent Windows Updates and anti-virus updates installed.
  • Flash is used only to play videos (located on the machine's hard disk) which are known to be safe.
  • The PC is not used to browse the web at all - the only browser, IE8, is never opened.
  • The Adobe Flash player install is about 3 months old.

I suspect any unpatched software could be a potential threat, but would be interested to know how bad the above situation is (relative to a fully-patched system).

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What other sort of network access does it have? –  Shinrai Jan 21 '11 at 18:55

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Primarily flash vulnerabilities are exposed when the player executes a malicious file. Assuming that the flash files played from the local machine are from a "trusted" source and that the flash player is never run outside of that context (ie within a browser), then there doesn't sound like much of a risk.

That said, if the machine pulls information from the Internet in other means (eg, E-Mail) then I guess it's possible that the browser engine could be used there and following a link from e-mail could cause the flash player to be used...

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Yeah, it's a matter of determining how all content gets to the system. Lots of software embeds the system html viewer for different things (online documentation, etc.), and any of those could be an attack vector. That's why it's important to keep your browser up-to-date even if you're not using the system to browse the internet. If the OP is really not using Flash, it should be uninstalled. Adobe's Flash Uninstaller will even remove the old versions that ship with the OS. –  afrazier Jan 21 '11 at 20:43

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