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Adobe Flash Cookies: Yes They Are Dangerous, and More Cool Linux Hacks

Mar 30, 2009, 18:04 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

"Hopefully this is my last word on Adobe Flash cookies (the correct name is Local Shared Objects) for awhile, because I'm getting tired of the subject. But several readers sent me some useful comments and hacks that seemed worth sharing, so here they are.

"Some good questions are "Are Flash cookies dangerous? What happens when you disable them completely, do you lose any important functionality?" Let's answer the second one first. Blocking Flash cookies completely shouldn't disable any Flash-enabled sites that you visit, though if you find one that refuses to work without LSOs you might ponder how badly you really want to visit such a site. You will lose some personalization on sites that use LSOs to save your personal settings: game scores, volume levels, keeping track of which dialog boxes you've already seen, saving playlists or queue, saving logins, and other personalized settings and data. If you have been encountering mysterious behavior on Flash-enabled sites that you like to visit, such as volume settings not related to your system volume settings, or saved playlists or logins even when you routinely delete HTTP cookies, most likely this is why.

"Are Flash Cookies Dangerous?
Of course they are-- to your privacy and personal data security. As increasing numbers of Web surfers understandably object to being cyber-stalked by marketers, and their personal data used and abused in all kinds of ways without their knowledge or consent, they take extra steps to foil HTTP cookie abuse by blocking and deleting the little buggers. Flash cookies are used in deliberately sneaky ways to get around this. You can't always tell when a site is Flash-enabled, because Flash elements can be embedded invisibly."

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