The term cookies has been used in the tech world for years to describe little bits of code intended to keep settings and login information consistent each time you visit a server you frequent. In some cases, cookies are used to track your activity and send usage reports to the site owner, and several browser scripts and extensions have been created to keep untrusted or unrecognized cookies from being used on your system. In some cases, cookies have been associated with malicious activities intended to track someone’s browsing history and get an idea of their interests, budget, and other personal data.
Recently, a new breed of cookie has appeared on the Web, and this one is practically invisible to the user. These new supercookies are being used by sites like Hulu and MSN to recreate their users’ profiles, even after the more traditional cookie has been deleted. This is made possible by a capability found in the Adobe Flash plug-in. Flash cookies aren’t stored or activated the same way traditional cookies are, and for this reason they’re harder to detect and get rid of. Most users don’t even know they exist.
Getting rid of them isn’t terribly difficult, but you have to know where to go. As it turns out, Adobe has a page set up for this very purpose, but you can also access it by clicking on a Flash object and selecting the Settings option. In this panel, you can choose to Delete all sites, which will remove all of the Flash cookies present on your system.
Supercookies may sound like some impressive technology that can tackle your system and make it beg for mercy. While it may certainly be a concern for the privacy-minded individual, this form of tracking is nothing new. Perhaps this is just another reason why we should be considering more non-Flash Web scripts?