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Flash Player spyware in your computer

The video camera and microphone of your computer can be controlled remotely by web sites if you installed the Flash player using the default settings. This is a great invasion of privacy because most computer users do not know how to change the settings to avoid this type of intrusion. In addition, the Flash player allows web sites to store information on your computer that can be used to track your activities on the web.

Adobe's Flash Player is used extensively on web pages to provide dynamic web content. Web sites like YouTube rely on the Flash Player or Shockwave Flash plugin to display movies and video clips on a user's terminal. In January of 2010, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would not support Flash because it was so buggy that it caused most of the crashes in Mac computers, but the Flash player is a very common component of Windows computers. Beginning with Flash Player 10.1, the Flash Player integrates with web browsers to automatically clear stored data in accordance with the browser's private browsing settings.

When installing Flash, the first concern is that the download screen has a checkbox for McAfee security scan that is checked by default. If you click the "Download now" button without unchecking the box, you are going to end up with extra software in your computer that you may not want and will have to uninstall later.

Once you install the Flash player, you have to set the privacy settings. Open a web page like YouTube.com that uses Flash and right click on a Flash object. A pop-up panel like the one below appears. Click on Global Settings...

If you don't want to be tracked through the Flash player, click on the option to block all sites from storing information. The interface may give you a warning that some sites may not work properly. Click OK to set your choice.

Next, click on the "Camera and Mic" tab and set the option to block all sites from using the camera and microphone. If you will only be using the Flash player to watch videos, there is no reason to allow any site to eavesdrop or spy on you.

The following link invokes the Flash Player settings manager for your computer with the web interface below. Needless to say, you have to go through this procedure for each computer on which you have installed the Flash player.

Global Privacy Settings panel

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora