Flash Cookies

On a Computer, a cookie is a small file where a web site can store information. Most cookies are good. They help the website and they help you. However, like any good thing, they can be abused. Cookies can be used to track what you do on the web or even save some information about you. These types of cookies are called tracking cookies.

You can go into your web browsers settings and delete all of your cookies. There are also free utilities that will delete all of your cookies for you. But since most cookies are good, you don’t really want to go and blow away all of your cookies. You only want to blow away the tracking cookies. The good news is that most security software will locate and delete tracking cookies during a scan.

However, there’s something new in the world of cookies. If you have been reading this newsletter very long, you have read about Flash. Flash is an add-on to your web browser which allows a website to do all sorts of cool things. Flash is very common. If you don’t have flash, there are a lot of websites that won’t display properly on your computer. We have also told you in the past how important it is to keep flash up to date for security reasons.

Now, some websites are using a feature in flash to do the same job as tracking cookies. Currently, security software does not find and delete flash cookies. And no utilities I know of can find and delete them either. In addition, you can’t go into your web browser’s options and delete them.

There is something you can do, though. You can run the Adobe Flash Player Settings Manager and tell it not to allow third-party flash content to store data on your computer. Here’s how to do it.

First, go to this link:

http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager03.html

On the left side, click on “Website Storage Settings panel”

Now you will see a list of all of the flash cookies on your computer. Most of them have names that are cryptic, but some have names you will recognize. Here, you can select one and delete it, or you can delete all of them.

If you want to prevent websites from saving any of this info in the future, then on the left side, click on “Global Storage Settings panel”

Now you will see a box with a checkmark in it and next to that it will say “Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer.”

Click on that box to remove the check mark.

And you’re done!

There may be some drawbacks to changing this setting. For example, if you play an online game that uses flash, it may not be able to save your high score. If you find these drawbacks annoying, you can always go back into the Flash settings manager and change it back.

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