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Getting Rid of Nasty Adobe Flash Cookies the Cool Linux Way

Using find to See What We're Up Against

  • March 27, 2009
  • By Carla Schroder

In Part 1 we learned about the not very well-known Adobe Flash cookies, how to find them on your Linux system, and how to use Adobe's Web-based Flash cookie manager. Today we're going to learn how to deal with Flash cookies using ordinary Linux commands, which unlike the Adobe manager are nice and fast and don't require an Internet connection. Linux has the advantage for nuking Flash cookies and keeping them nuked. If you want to pick and choose which ones to allow and which ones to deny, the Adobe tool is probably the better option.

Using find to See What We're Up Against

The find command has a wealth of options for all occasions, and is a wonderful all-purpose power tool. First let's start at the top level of our home directory and find out if we have any Flash cookies:

$ cd
$ find -iname '*.sol'

The first command makes sure we're back at the top level of our home directory, and then find will search starting from there and then dive into the sub-directories. -iname performs a case-insensitive filename search, and '*.sol' means "find all files with the .sol extension." If you have the Flash plugin installed you should see results like this:

/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/9WQLPZGG/d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf/scribdSettings.sol
/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/9WQLPZGG/i.dell.com/s_br.sol
/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/9WQLPZGG/listen.grooveshark.com/main.swf/gslite.sol
/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/#s.ytimg.com/settings.sol
/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/#googleads.g.doubleclick.net/settings.sol
/home/carla/.macromedia/Flash_Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/#www.soundclick.com/settings.sol

Even if you never view Flash videos, adservers use Flash. Want to know how many there are? Pipe the output of find to wc (word count):

$ find -iname '*.sol' | wc -l
95

The -l option counts linebreaks. 95 Flash cookies! Why so many? What do they do? You can't read them like ordinary HTTP cookies because they are binary instead of plain text. If you're curious you can fire up a hex editor and see inside, which probably won't tell you much:

$ hexedit .macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/9WQLPZGG/i.dell.com/s_br.sol

Hit Ctrl+c to close hexedit.

You can extract any plain-text bits and skip all the hexedecimal stuff with the strings command:

$ strings .macromedia/Flash_Player/#SharedObjects/9WQLPZGG/listen.grooveshark.com/main.swf/gslite.sol
TCSO
gslite
1localQueueRepresentation
autoplayID
queueID
cursorPosition
CsuppressPendingUploadNotification

Which still doesn't tell us much, but it never hurts to look; curiosity is a splendid virtue.

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