Circumventing LSOs, Adobe Flash Cookie Tracking Technology

I don’t know of anyone that makes due without Flash these days. It’s become so pervasive, it’s difficult to imagine one without it on today’s Internet.

HTML5 is supposed to change this, what with Jobs formally announcing this in his famous letter regarding Adobe’s technology. While I see the end of any proprietary technology, such as Flash, a good thing –especially one (that can easily be) used for tracking purposes (Flash cookies/LSOs)– there should be a simple way to make use of this technology and maintain privacy –until HTML5 can be fully exploited by browsers and gains universal support from sites providing a multimedia experience.

Luckily, if you’re reasonably proficient at line command, there’s various ways on how to go about guarding your privacy. This is how I went about it on Gnu/Linux. It assumes you have Adobe’s Flash and BleachIt installed.

Yes, I know Adobe provides a global storage settings panel with which you can adjust your settings. I find it incomprehensible at times, and generally awkward. There was at one point some talk about it not being fully configurable, consequently not preventing all tracking ability. In the end, I don’t think it was an honest attempt on the part of Adobe to allow full and easy user customization, so I stay away from it –despite that things may have changed since I looked at it about a year or two ago.

You may want to see the Flash cookies before beginning. From a terminal, execute the following.

cd ~/.macromedia
find -iname '*.sol'

Optional

Prior to starting, BleachIt can easily clean out cookies, but you may want to keep your present Flash cookies as a fallback configuration setting. If you don’t care to retain a backup, just eradicate the contents under the two Flash sections (Cache and Cookies sections).

Steps

Then back at a terminal, input everything from home, thus the first command.

cd ~
mv .macromedia .macromedia-bak
ln -s /dev/null .macromedia
ls -ald .macromedia

mv .adobe/Flash_Player .adobe/Flash_Player-bak
ln -s /dev/null .adobe/Flash_Player
ls -ald .adobe/Flash_Player

The above contains three basic steps, affecting ~/.macromedia and ~/.adobe.

  1. The “mv” command backs up the original files with a “-bak” extension.
  2. The “ln -s” creates the soft link.
  3. The list (“ls”) command with the “-ald” flags above verifies the link was created.

The great thing about creating the above backup (“*-bak”) files is that, should you want to revert, you can do so to previous settings and cookies with the below commands. (For this to to be possible, you should not have used BleachIt to erase previous cookies in the first place [optional step above].)

First, you’ll need to get rid of the soft links created by the “ln -s” command. You can just use Nautilus to do so (delete/trash) or do the following from line command. (Since soft links are just files, “rm” should work rather than the “rm -rf”, used on directories.)

cd ~
rm .macromedia
rm .adobe/Flash_Player

Second, reinstate the previous state using the backup copies.

mv .macromedia-bak .macromedia
mv .adobe/Flash_Player-bak .adobe/Flash_Player

Maurice Cepeda

Update

I’ve noticed that the softlinks at sometime get over-written by “propper and funtional” corresponding directories. In other words, this is a case of circumventing the curcumvention. Your options are to either write protect the Flash directories or use a browser add-on such as BetterPrivacy or Self-Destructing Cookies or just regularily clean with BleachIt.

References

http://www.pc-freak.net/blog/how-to-disable-or-remove-completely-adobe-macromedia-flash-cookies-on-linux/ among others.

All rights reserved on the article, defined as the text and any original material and medium –including photographs when specifically mentioned in at least one of the following corresponding elements: caption, alternate text, or title. Quoted texts, and other material not copyrighted by Maurice Cepeda, are used under the concept of fair use and are the properties of their respective owners –including photographs, audio recordings, videos, or any other products in any form or fashion– as are all brands mentioned. If copyrighted videos and/or audio recordings should make themselves into articles, note that they are not hosted herein; if you are the copyright holder of any such material (and have a problem with fair use), approach the appropriate hosting site. Any audio or visual material (or any combination thereof) incorporated under fair use, either hosted locally (if that should come to be) or otherwise, will most likely be of lesser quality, thus, “fair use”. By reading this article, the reader forgoes any accountability of the writer. The reading of this article implies acceptance of the above stipulations.

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