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  1. #1
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    This is scary
    If you've never heard of a Flash cookie, read this (you'll have to download the PDF).

    The link is from an article about Disney being sued for spying on kids, but I'm wondering how long before some nefarious turd figures out how to use the same technology to overwrite HTTP affiliate cookies...

    We found that top 100 websites are using Flash cookies to “respawn,” or recreate deleted HTTP cookies. This means that privacy-sensitive consumers who “toss” their HTTP cookies to prevent tracking or remain anonymous are still being uniquely identified online by advertising companies.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    There was some discussion here awhile ago about flash cookies, at http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=128549 but this is the kind of activity that can bring on regulations it looks like.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Plenty Of F-lash C-ookie S-tuffers
    I did a simple search for 'blackhat flash cookies'. Google provides page after page of links to different stuffer scripts and information about flash cookie stuffing.

    I did get some useful info off one blackhat site. This Link:
    http://www.macromedia.com/support/do...manager07.html

    ...will direct you to your flash cookie settings.
    It looks at first glance like a tutorial with an image.

    It's not just an image, it is actually your own computers flash cookie settings. There you can change your settings and see, & delete your flash cookies.

    There are actually 8 different control panels there. Each controls a different aspect of your
    flash settings, security and other things.

    I'm only starting to scratch the surface of this, looks the the bad guys are already taking advantage of it, lots of reading to do...

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Some big/brand-name sites have been involved in flash cookie shenanigans, being sued.

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/tag/flash-cookies/

    Even if the aff program you are working with doesn't track with flash cookies, it seems like messing with them can mess with your reg. cookies.
    Last edited by simcat; August 17th, 2010 at 07:25 PM.

  5. #5
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    Lawsuits are starting to pop up for the over use of flash cookies.

    http://www.research-live.com/news/.../4003387.article

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    http:// www.nirsoft.net/ offers a nice desktop utility to view and manage your flash cookies. Pretty sure it was mentioned in the thread I linked to above.

  7. #7
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    http:// www.nirsoft.net/ offers a nice desktop utility to view and manage your flash cookies. Pretty sure it was mentioned in the thread I linked to above.
    It's one of the best desktop utility I use every single day... (all day)

    They deserve a direct link to that free, and very useful small utility program:

    FlashCookiesView v1.11
    FlashCookiesView is a small utility that displays the list of cookie files created by Flash component (Local Shared Object) in your Web browser. For each cookie file, the lower pane of FlashCookiesView displays the content of the file in readable format or as Hex dump.
    You can also select one or more cookie files, and then copy them to the clipboard, save them to text/html/xml file or delete them.

  8. #8
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Thanks to 2Busy & Mr. Sal for the tip on www.nirsoft.net

    I did not know about it and now I do
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
    Twitter me

  9. #9
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7 View Post
    Thanks to 2Busy & Mr. Sal for the tip on www.nirsoft.net

    I did not know about it and now I do
    Your're welcome Rhia!

    But, here is a little extra Tip:

    Every time you go to YouTube or any other site that uses Macromedia, you will get a new set of Macromedia flash cookies on this directory: (Btw, this is on Vista.)

    C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Macromedia\Flash Player...

    You can delete that Macromedia directory, but every time you visit a site that uses flash cookies, that directory will be created again, and again, and again...

    So far, we can delete the flash cookies with that utility, but... unless we manually delete that Macromedia directory, there is going to always be a record of all of those flash cookies websites that we visit.

    We can eat the chocolate cookie, but the chocolate-website-name will still be there on that directory, so eat at your own risk...

  10. #10
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Here is a Firefox Add-on called BetterPrivacy. Looks like you can set it to wipe them all out on closing the FF browser. It's a little clunky but very interesting.

    Edit: I closed the browser and it popped a warning to see if I wanted to dump them all. I set the ABW cookies to remain. We shall see tomorrow if I loose any utility with the missing cookies.
    Last edited by John Powell; August 18th, 2010 at 12:03 AM. Reason: More INFO


  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Powell View Post
    Here is a Firefox Add-on called BetterPrivacy. Looks like you can set it to wipe them all out on closing the FF browser. It's a little clunky but very interesting.
    +1. I was flabbergasted by the sheer number. & some are set by a merchant who uses agencies to help them "recapture" lost sales by tracking readers who don't purchase then popup ads when they go to Facebook, etc. Talk about privacy invasion!
    Last edited by JoyUnltd; August 18th, 2010 at 01:27 AM. Reason: I should be sleeping, not posting.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Ghostery is another FF addon that identifies
    tags, web bugs, pixels and beacons that are included on web pages in order to get an idea of your online behavior.

    Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Here is a Firefox Add-on called BetterPrivacy. Looks like you can set it to wipe them all out on closing the FF browser. It's a little clunky but very interesting.
    Sounds like one of those add-ons we all hope our visitors aren't using

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Powell View Post
    Here is a Firefox Add-on called BetterPrivacy. Looks like you can set it to wipe them all out on closing the FF browser..
    I installed it.
    I wiped the slate clean.
    WOW

    Maybe it is coincidental ...........Firefox works smoother......My computer is on steroids now........All necessary items seem to be in place and running as they should.

    Looks very good to me.....Thanks
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  15. #15
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Curioser and curiouser...

    I found a dedicated directory amongst the Flash stuff for atdmt.com. This was outside of the two directories where the bulk of the Flash cookie stuff was stored. The domain belongs to Atlas, Microsoft's new(ish?) ad network. Was there a deal between Macromedia and Microsoft to build in dedicated Flash stuff for their network outside of the Flash cookie loop...?
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager
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    I heard something about it a while ago... we should be worried

    Cheers!

  17. #17
    It is very dangerous for us.~~~~~~~~~

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyingstone88 View Post
    It is very dangerous for us.~~~~~~~~~

    I see people make strong decisions without knowledge of technology.

    Why are you afraid of flash cookies ? Maybe you should worry also about other technologies, which can store in same way data on your computer and you can't delete them from browser.

    Do you know Silverlight isolated storage ? Do you know DOM5 storage ? Do you know Google Gears ?

    I think I will make another post about this theme
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit View Post
    I see people make strong decisions without knowledge of technology.
    I am guilty.............Some of us are more skilled in other fields, but we try.

    Why are you afraid of flash cookies ? Maybe you should worry also about other technologies, which can store in same way data on your computer and you can't delete them from browser.
    Please..........Feel free to inform us/me

    Do you know Silverlight isolated storage ? Do you know DOM5 storage ? Do you know Google Gears ?
    I rarely download anything that I am not familiar with or that doesn't come highly recommended by a friend.

    Last week I wiped my HD clean and have been reloading and "cussin" for several days. The last thing that I reluctantly loaded before the virus took over was Silverlight. I can't prove that this was the culprit but it will not happen again.

    I also took advice from folks here and added the FF plugin to erase the cookies. 150 in a day........sounds like too many germs floating around my computer.

    Out of this is a laptop that runs much FASTER.............
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  20. #20
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit View Post
    I see people make strong decisions without knowledge of technology.

    Why are you afraid of flash cookies ? Maybe you should worry also about other technologies, which can store in same way data on your computer and you can't delete them from browser.

    Do you know Silverlight isolated storage ? Do you know DOM5 storage ? Do you know Google Gears ?
    OK. Now I'm worried about other technologies that can store data in the same way. Which is not to say that I'm no longer worried about Flash cookies. Saying that there are equal or worse evils doesn't lessen the potential harm of Flash cookies and not knowing how busses work doesn't lessen the pain of being hit by one. One of the reasons we rely on experts within a given field is that we couldn't possibly be experts in everything. But that doesn't make us morons. If you can refute the conclusions made by some very credible unbiased researchers at the Social Science Research Network at a level that we stupid people can understand, feel free.

    -rematt

    By the way, my fear of being hit by busses doesn't lessen the fear of being hit by trucks. I hear that they hurt too.
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  21. #21
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    I like the comparison with buses and trucks :-) ... good point.

    Still we have options how we can protect ourself:
    1. set permissions on your computer so, that Flash will not be allowed to write flash cookies on your disk. The same is valid for all other storage types.

    2. Or just uninstall Flash if you don't agree with its functionality


    I know technical side of the problem, but it is not clear to me the legal part. I opened some questions here:
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136272
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  22. #22
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit View Post
    Still we have options how we can protect ourself
    But your original post would lead us to believe that there was no need to protect ourselves. I understand that you may have a pig in this pageant, but save the lipstick for another day. This is not an attack on your product.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  23. #23
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit View Post
    I see people make strong decisions without knowledge of technology.
    One of the scarier parts of this technology with regards to affiliate marketing is that third parties are able to use Flash cookies to reinstate deleted HTML cookies, which makes me wonder if they could also potentially overwrite HTML cookies with new cookies for the same website...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  24. #24
    http and a telephoto
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    We *do* know the technology... and what Ethan just said... among a *lot* of other problems that are being discussed in your other thread.

    Technology that violates privacy *will* end up regulated.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    rematt: yes, I know, it is not attack on our product. We don't restore zombie cookies.

    loxly: yes, I agree, that technology should not allow developers to use it in a way, which violates privacy. e.g. If you can delete cookies in your browser, you should be able to delete also all other types of storages in same way.

    There is small inconsistency in browsers:
    Browser cookies - browsers can write/ready, user can delete them
    Flash cookies (or other) - browsers can read/write, but user can't delete them in same way
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

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