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Old 09-21-2010, 03:06 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Are Flash cookies tracking you?

Do you feel as if you are being followed online? I do, and it has become much more blatant recently. A few weeks ago I was researching recumbent exercise bicycles, visiting manufacturers’ sites, reading complaints and comments about various models, and so on. Then I went about my normal online activities, and haven’t looked further into the subject. Most of you know I am no jock, and normally I never see ads for sports or exercise equipment. But all of a sudden and for several weeks following, wherever there were ads they were about gym equipment. Some linked to sites I had visited; others to competitors of those sites.

I realized this was caused by cookies. What I didn’t realize is that these were souped-up cookies that despite any settings I fiddled with never disappeared. Hrmmmmph.

Today I read an interesting article in the N.Y. Times: “Code That Tracks Users’ Browsing Prompts Lawsuits.” It refers to lawsuits against the use of Flash cookies that are immune to a user’s normal cookie control procedures.

They are placed by marketeers using Flash. Do read the Times article to see the details.

My main point in mentioning this is that the cookie files are not stored on the user’s computer, so you need to take an extra step to delete them. Instead they are stored in the Website Storage Settings Panel on an Adobe Macromedia server. Visit that link to see what Flash cookies are stored for you. The panel allows you to delete selected or all sites in the list. (It takes a minute or so.)

   
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:04 PM   #2
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Thanks for that info...I had mod'd my Flash settings a while ago but I didn't know about Flash cookies...I checked my settings and cleared the cookies but my guess is that it won't remain cleared--I will check back in a few days to see if there are new entries...

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Old 09-21-2010, 05:09 PM   #3
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Oh for pete's sake, now we have to go to their site to manage stuff on our OWN computers?? And of course they claim to have no access to the data. Uh huh. And how is it that theyr'e SHOWING it to me, then, exactly?

Signing off now. Flash is making an abrupt departure from my main PC.

   
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:16 PM   #4
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"Flash is making an abrupt departure "
Why new and abrupt, Steve? For years it has had a reputation of being a marvelous security flaw, version after version, wrapped in a useless applet. Flash cookies should be no surprise. And all these years after Windows has been shipping 64-bit versions as normal on so many computers...Adobe still has no 64-bit version of Flash. 64-bit clean code, like security, is just too complicated for Adobe. Basic programming just seems to elude them, year after year.
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:07 AM   #5
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Why new and abrupt? Better than leaving it around even longer, I suppose.

   
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:13 AM   #6
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So that's where it is! I've been looking for the Flash Control Panel on my PC. That's unbelievable dodgy - many thanks, Kathleen x

   
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:18 AM   #7
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Wow. Thanks for posting this.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:37 AM   #8
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Update: I went through Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs and removed anything that smacked of Flashiness. Thought that ought to do it.

Then just for giggles, I went back to the Flash Settings site and darned if it didn't load the little Flash widget that does the work.

Wrong.Wrong.Wrong. Dear Adobe, which part of "REMOVE" is so hard to understand?

I'm using Opera and found various bits in its plugins folder. No idea which bit goes with what, so I made a copy of the folder, named it DEADplugins, then deleted the original folder.

Seems to have worked. Time will tell if it killed anything else.

   
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:57 AM   #9
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"Wrong.Wrong.Wrong. Dear Adobe, which part of "REMOVE" is so hard to understand?"
Considering that this is ADOBE, and that when you set certain versions of Acrobat to NEVER UPDATE they come back like RealPlayer (Ghoulware!) and offer you updates anyway?

Found out overnight the hard way, my bank's https secure online banking site uses A FLASH COOKIE! to indentify my computer. Not a regular cookie. Clean out the flash trash...and I can't log into the bank.

What's the penalty for strangling incompetent programmers? Is there an iPhone app that will do that for me yet?
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Old 09-22-2010, 01:56 PM   #10
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Man, considering that it's running on ATT, ya'd think, wouldn'tya?

Reach out and crush someone('s windpipe)

It'd be interesting to see a copy of the note that's going to your bank!

   
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