Locally Shared Objects

A locally shared object is similar to a cookie, but much larger. Also called Flash Cookies, they store information needed to run Adobe Flash Player. If you have Flash installed and running in your browser, you have locally shared objects on your computer now. 

Because these cookies are so much larger than a normal cookie, they pose a larger risk. They can store browsing data and other private information. As a result, many countries require notification and acknowledgement of the use of cookies. You have probably seen these notices before. Unfortunately, these alerts are very ineffective as most internet users don’t understand why they are being notified and just click past them. You almost can’t use the internet without accepting cookies from everywhere.

 

“You have locally shared objects on your computer right now”

Reducing the Risks of Locally Shared Objects

Locally shared objects are not cookies, and are not treated as such. Depending on your perspective, this can be a feature. Many web developers use locally shared objects for this very reason; they are difficult to block. Many times, they are tied into the settings for standard cookies.

So what happens if you turn off cookies and locally shared objects? The internet becomes much less useful. Some features are pretty minor, such as no longer saving auto-fill features or settings. More frustrating, E-commerce doesn’t work at all without cookies because the shopping cart is built on cookies. Worst, you can’t even log into accounts without cookies. This is why if you do try to disable cookies, you get a warning from your browser. 

Okay, so if turning off everything is not a great idea, can you protect yourself from these larger cookies that expose more of your data? Yes! I wish I could limit how large these cookies could be by blocking locally shared objects without blocking cookies. Still, one advantage of the movement towards combining the settings is that it is now much easier to remove locally shared objects. Simply by clearing your browser’s cookies now removes everything. The trick is to remember to do it. 

I suggest tying these types of security routines with another routine you already do. Maybe at the end of each month, after balancing your accounts, you clear your cookies. Maybe you want to make it part of your Friday closing procedures. In the meantime, we can support legislation that does more than alert us of the use of cookies, but that is informed by how the internet actually works and can limit the use of harmful or even malicious data storage. 


Locally shared objects are difficult to block, but they can be deleted

 

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