Feeds

Adobe (finally) makes it easier to delete Flash cookies

Privacy menace made manageable

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Adobe has finally fixed a privacy weakness that threatened users of its ubiquitous Flash Player: the software's storing of cookie-like files that many websites used to track visitors' behavior against their wishes.

So-called LSOs, or local shared objects, are useful for storing user preferences, such as the preferred sound volume when visiting YouTube, but the Flash feature comes with a dark side. Unscrupulous websites can use them to restore tracking cookies even after a user deliberately deletes them. Files that do this have come to be known as Flash cookies.

Now, developers at Adobe have worked with their counterparts at Mozilla and Google on a programming interface that allows LSOs to be deleted from within the settings panel of compliant browsers. The API, known as NPAPI ClearSiteData, has already been approved for implementation in Firefox. It will soon appear on the Google Chrome dev channel.

Emmy Huang, a Flash Player group project manager who blogged about the change, didn't say if Microsoft or Apple planned to add the feature to Internet Explorer and Safari.

Huang also announced changes that add more LSO control to the Flash Player Settings Manager. The panel allows users to turn off LSO storage altogether, or to customize which sites can or cannot use the feature.

The Flash revamp comes some 17 months after US academics found that a more than 50 percent of websites sampled used LSOs to track their users. They warned the use of Flash cookies threatened user privacy because they were often overlooked and harder to delete. Last year, Walt Disney's internet subsidiary and several of its partners were sued for allegedly using Flash cookies to track highly personal information about their users, many of whom were minors. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.