Feeds

Adobe (finally) makes it easier to delete Flash cookies

Privacy menace made manageable

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.