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Randy The Tech Professor

July 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

You Really Should “Lose Your Cookies”

Hello everyone,

Most people have heard about common browser cookies. A cookie is just one or more pieces of information stored as text strings (little text files) on your machine. A Web server sends you a cookie and the browser stores it. The browser then returns the cookie to the server the next time the page is referenced.

The most common use of a cookie is to store a user ID. For example, the cookie might contain the following text file string: ID=96352398. Cookies are very common, they are not harmful, they cannot transmit viruses, they cannot reveal personal information from your hard disk.

But then there is another type of cookie: Flash Cookies! Straight from Wired Magazine:

“Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not.

Several services even use the surreptitious data storage to reinstate traditional cookies that a user deleted, which is called ‘re-spawning’ in homage to video games where zombies come back to life even after being “killed,” the report found. So even if a user gets rid of a website’s tracking cookie, that cookie’s unique ID will be assigned back to a new cookie again using the Flash data as the “backup”.

The study found that 54 of the top 100 set Flash cookies, which vary from simply setting audio preferences to tracking users by a unique identifier., for instance, placed on this writer’s work computer to set the volume of a video player.

Adobe’s Flash software is installed on an estimate 98 percent of personal computers, and has been a key component in the explosion of online video, powering video players for sites such as YouTube and Hulu.

Websites can store up to 100K of information in the plug-in, 25 times what a browser cookie can hold. Sites like also use Flash’s storage capability to preload portions of songs or videos to ensure smooth playback”.

How do you get rid of these sneaky Flash Cookies? Well, Adobe doesn’t make it easy for you because they don’t want you to get rid of them. Again straight from the same Wired magazine article.

“Flash cookies are handled differently. These are fixed through a web page on Adobe’s site, where the controls are not easily understood (There is a panel for Global Privacy Settings and another for Website Privacy Settings — the difference is unclear). In fact, the controls are so odd, the page has to tell you that it is the control, not just a tutorial on how to use the control”.

You can go to the Adobe site and try to figure out how to prevent/delete your Flash Cookies but there is a much easier and better way! Here it is:

Go to Softpedia and download Flash Cookies Cleaner 1.2. The program is incredibly easy to download, install, and use. “The Flash Cookies Cleaner application was developed to be a small tool that has been designed specifically to remove every Flash Cookie from your system”.

Now you can “lose your cookies” for real!

Professor Randy says: Don’t be duped! Don’t let any person or program invade your privacy and treat you like a naive fool! Get rid of your Flash Cookies on a regular basis by using a simple program like Flash Cookies Cleaner 1.2.



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