7 Replies Latest reply: Aug 10, 2010 10:28 AM by The hatter
Lizzy Scott Level 1 (5 points)
I was alarmed to read the series in the series in the Wall Street Journal ( www.wsj.com/wtk ) about flash cookies, trackers, and beacons. I had always set my preferences (in Firefox) to not accept cookies, changing that only when I came to a site that required cookies (like Facebook), but then choosing the option to not accept 3rd-party cookies, changing my preferences after the visit, and deleting cookies.

I installed the add-ons suggested by the WSJ and on this website (Adblock Plus, Better Privacy, Ghostery, PrivacyChoice TrackerWater, and Taco. There is nothing in my Library>Preferences>Macromedia file. I visited the Adobe website and followed their instructions to delete flash cookies. Yet I cannot get rid of the cookies!

I tried this experiment: when not connected to the internet, with cookies turned off, I deleted all cookies, closed Firefox, and lo and behold, 150 cookies (yes, I counted them) had re-created themselves!

How can I get rid of them permanently? Please don't give me any pablum about them being harmless, they help to streamline the ads being shown to me, etc. etc. I don't care about that. This is MY computer and I do not want anyone installing anything on it! It irks me that deleting cookies deletes the useful cookies -- cookies that I would chose to keep -- but keeps all these other ones.

Please, if anyone knows, how can I permanently delete these cookies?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,855 points)
    Get the Add-on NoScript for Firefox.

    In addition, I always empty all cookies after a browsing session or at the end of the day. The worst is I have to log back in to some sites. You can't permanently eliminate the possibility of picking up a tracking cookie, but you can get rid of them if you pick one up. NoScript minimizes the chances of getting one, since you only allow the minimum scripts for a site to function. I suggest you start at the NS site and read about it. There's also a support forum which needs no registration. I won't have a lot of time today to explain much more.

    Here what you do to completely eliminate Flash cookies. This works.

    +"Delete your ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia folder so you're starting from a clean, shared-object-free, slate.+
    +Next, in your web browser visit http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_man ager07.html and under the Global Privacy Settings, click the button labeled "always deny" then "confirm" to prevent Flash from watching you through your webcam or listening to you over the computer's microphone. Technically speaking this isn't necessary, but it seems like a prudent move if you don't like the idea of web sites accessing these resources. Don't bother changing anything else in the Settings Manager because the other stuff pretty much involves what and how much can get saved on your computer, and we're going to answer those questions entirely different means.+
    +Now navigate in the Finder back to your ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia folder and and recursively lock every file and folder inside it. This should include macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/settings.sol, macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys, macromedia.com/support/flashplayer, macromedia.com/support, macromedia.com/#SharedObjects/<random letters and numbers>, macromedia.com/#SharedObjects, and finally the macromedia.com folder itself.+

    +That's it!+

    +The cool thing about this is that Flash is convinced it can store this crap so everything works, but nothing is actually remembered by Flash. Or at least nothing is remembered between browser sessions. Flash apparently never tells sites attempting to store stuff that, even though storing is enabled, it doesn't actually work and nothing gets stored."+
  • Lizzy Scott Level 1 (5 points)
    Thanks, I had to look up "recursively" to find out that it just means systematically, or one-by-one. I did that, and locked each of the files and folders in the Macromedia folder. I also had to look up how to lock a file, which is easy, click on the folder, then File > Get Info and then click the "lock" option.

    I am going to lock off and shut down, then come back to Firebox and see if the cookies come back (I'll mark this "solved" if this works).
  • Lizzy Scott Level 1 (5 points)
    Okay, even with all the files locked (and I did install the NoScript add-on too), and deleting all the cookies when I exited Firefox, they came back! Perhaps locking the files in the Macromedia folder prevents new flash cookies from being created but does nothing about the ones that are already there?

    Sometimes it's true that ignorance is bliss, I thought that by refusing cookies, I was refusing anything from being sereptitiously installed on my computer. I was perfectly happy in my ignorance, but now I'm mad!
  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,855 points)
    To test, you have to go to a few Flash sites, then in the Macromedia Folder, check +#Shared Objects+ with a GetInfo. It should be empty and stay empty, zero KB. All the Folders nesting inside each other in that Folder which is itself locked, should now be locked

    EDIT: We have been talking about Flash cookies which live in that Macromedia Folder. Ordinary cookies, seen in Firefox Preferences>cookies, will come back as soon as you visit a site. Generally if you don't allow them the site won't function or function properly. They are needed, at least during a session, but you can delete them all or selectively whenever you like. And not all cookies are Tracking cookies. You may pick up only a few or none. Watch out for doubleclick. This is why NoScript is good. Those Tracking cookies often get installed from secondary scripts, or elements of a page. And in Firefox make sure you don't allow third party cookies .

    Message was edited by: WZZZ

    Message was edited by: WZZZ
  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,855 points)
    To identify which cookies you have that are tracking cookies, you can get the demo of MacScan. Update it before using. You probably don't need to run the entire program, which takes a very long time; it checks cookies in the first minute or two. You need to close all your browsers before running it. A quick scan will be enough.


    (I don't understand. You deleted all your cookies, and all of the same ones reappeared? How are you deleting cookies in Firefox?)
  • Chris CA Level 9 (78,695 points)
    you can use this -> Flush
  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)
    What settings are you using for actions to take when Firefox is closed?

    It gives you the option of what to keep, logins, forms, history, and... cookies.

    What you need is something like CCleaner for Windows that will remove all browser you choose to remove and other items whenever you log onto your account.

    I would think something like SLCC (Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, use to be LCC or Leopard Cache Cleaner).

    And I am 99.99% that we had this same discussion in another thread a couple months ago, if anyone can look it up??

    Seems like something maybe even KAV (Kaspersky for Mac Antivirus) might have.

    And yes, locking a file tends not to prevent writing, but alterting the file type sometimes does.