PBSKids.org is watching you!

MegaSignal

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 20, 2003
304
0
After playing a game using a character name, this website still knows when my kid re-visits the site, despite having cleared cookies and resetting Safari.

It seems to be user-exclusive; if I log in as a different user on the computer (who hasn't played the particular game), it won't know we're there.

Obviously the site has planted a file on a user account that it searches for whenever it is re-visited under this particular logged-in account.

Any ideas on how to find this file and/or explain to me how this works?
 

MegaSignal

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 20, 2003
304
0
jsw said:
Which game? I'll look into it.
Thanks for responding!

From the home section, click on Cyberquest => Games Central => The Quest => Play => Enter the Game. At this point, you can create a character name and begin playing the game. From this point on, each time you subsequently merely visit the site, clicking on "Enter the Game" will list all of the characters you've created, with or without cookies or browsing history.

I should mention here that I like the website and feel relatively secure with the kids using it (in fact, it's the only web site that they're alowed on to).

My concern is with the fact that even with a Mac and a reset of Safari that there is yet another vector with which to invade my privacy; I feel that I'm out of control of this aspect of browsing when I cannot control this situation simply by managing the cookies in Safari.

Thanks again for your help!
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
17,267
1,172
dejo said:
As long as you're logged in under an account, I think any other info can be stored on the server-side.
There's no logging in for this.

This is a Flash game...Flash can store items on your computer if you allow it to. Are these things deleted when you reset Safari?
 

MegaSignal

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 20, 2003
304
0
Some clarifications

Even after resetting Safari, all the names are still listed.

Most importantly, there is no logging in to this website; just by visiting the site, it seems to "know" things such as previous character names, scores, etc.

Again, my problem with this is that I don't necessarily like having files dropped on my HDD outside of the browsing application.

Sounds like this could have something to do with the Flash Player.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
The direct link is: http://pbskids.org/cyberchase/quest3/launch.html

(Click "Play", then "Enter the Game", then create a creature and name it, then quit and go back... creature's still there).

Interestingly enough, if you visit in Safari, then exit Safari and click on the link above in Firefox (having not gone there before), it also knows.

I don't know if it does it with a combination of IP and Java fetching user name or what, but this is interesting behavior. Could be the Flash Player, yes... I didn't know it cached it's own info, but that would make sense.

Anyone?
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
17,267
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Okay...here we go.

Information on Flash local storage here.

Control clicking on the Flash game and selecting "Settings..." brings up a window. Clicking on the folder icon brings up options for how much info the Flash item can store on your computer.

Do a Spotlight search for pbskids to find out where they put the info. I found a folder in ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects/JKH2748W/pbskids.org

I also found a folder in ~/Library/Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys/#pbskids.org

The above linked article tells you how to set global Flash settings that can deny any Flash program from storing info on your computer.
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
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No problem...I had played around with Flash local storage settings in the past, but had never actually tried to find where that information was stored. It was a learning experience for me, too! :D
 

St Soichiro

macrumors regular
Jun 30, 2004
152
0
Tulsa, OK
Thanks from my side too. My kids are on this site all the time. I like it, and consider it quite safe, but will keep this 'tracking' thing in mind.