Flashback

18.10.2010 18:34

Did you know Adobe Flash stores a lot of information about the sites you visit in your home directory? If you have this plug-in installed clearing browser history doesn't remove all incriminating evidence. Have a look in ~/.macromedia on your machine and chances are there's a lot of info there about your web browsing habits.

I like to have browsers I regularly use set to delete cookies on every restart. While this doesn't make me impossible to track on the web at least I'm not handing out this info on a platter. However Flash doesn't offer this functionality and sadly it's still pretty hard to get around without it.

So here's some code I have in my ~/.gnomerc to help with that:

# Run in a sub-shell to prevent exporting shell variables
(
MACROMEDIA_DIR="$HOME/.macromedia"

if [ ! -e "$MACROMEDIA_DIR" ]; then
	TMPDIR=`mktemp --tmpdir -d "macromedia-$USER-XXXXXX"`

	rm -f "$MACROMEDIA_DIR"
	ln -s "$TMPDIR" "$MACROMEDIA_DIR"
fi
)

This gets executed on every GNOME session. It symlinks .macromedia directory into /tmp where it gets cleaned up on every reboot.

I tend to shutdown my machines over night, so this ensures that any cookies get regularly cleaned out.

Posted by Tomaž | Categories: Code

Comments

What you may be seeing is Flash storing what are called "Flash Cookies". If you go to the Flash control panel site, supposedly you are able to turn them off, but many say they turn themselves back on. Use the Firefox Web browser with a plug-in called "Better Privacy" to get a handle on these nasty flash cookies. While you are at it, install the "Noscript" plug-in for Firefox too, that will allow you to turn scripting on and off for each site you visit.

Regards, David in Jakarta

Posted by David

Thanks for the tips David. I'm a long time user of Noscript and I can hardly imagine going back to the web without it.

I've heard about Better Privacy, but if its functionality can be replaced with a short shell script, I'm more comfortable with that.

Posted by Tomaž

Hi!

I recently published a site that tells you if you have Flash cookies (or any other - there are many!) enabled.

It is sometimes difficult to know if you can be tracked or not, so this site will hopefully help remedy that. Here it is:
http://www.canyoutrackme.com/

Hope it helps.

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