Flash cookies: What’s new with online privacy

By | September 9, 2009

http://i.techrepublic.com.com/blogs/cookie.jpgWeb site hosts and advertisers do not like relying on HTTP cookies. Users have figured out how to avoid them. According to Bruce Schneier, Web site developers now have a better way. It’s still considered a cookie, yet it’s different.LSO, a bigger better cookieLocal Shared Object LSO or Flash cookie, like the HTTP cookie, is a way of storing information about us and tracking our movement around the Internet. Some other things I learned: Flash cookies can hold a lot more data, up to 100 Kilobytes. A standard HTTP cookie is only 4 Kilobytes. Flash cookies have no expiration date by default. Flash cookies are stored in different locations, making them difficult to find.YouTube testLSOs are also hard to get rid of. Here is a test proving that. Go to YouTube, open a video, and change the volume. Delete all cookies and close the Web browser. Reopen the Web browser and play the same video. Notice that the volume did not return to the default setting. Thank a Flash cookie for that.Not many know about Flash cookies and that is a problem. It puts people who configure their Web browser to control cookies under a false sense of security. As shown earlier, privacy controls have no effect on Flash cookies.Where are they storedFlash cookies use the extension .sol. Knowing that, I still wasn’t able to find any on my computer. Thanks to Google uses Flash cookies, I determined the only way you can access information about resident Flash cookies is by going to Flash Player’s Web site.

Solution: Use Firefox with this add in:

BetterPrivacy is a Super Cookie Safeguard which protects from usually not deletable LSO’s. It blocks longterm tracking on Google, YouTube Ebay and many other domains.

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