No, this article isn't about some new, lose-20-pounds-in-a-week, certified-by-some-tan-Southern-California-doctor diet. It's about cookies on your computer - what they are, why they are there, and what to do about them. Computer cookies actually have quite a bit in common with their baked counterparts - some are good, some are bad, and they have expiration dates.
Cookies are small text files that a server places onto your hard drive whenever you access a given domain. Cookies typically contain information that the website uses to either customize the page you are viewing or otherwise make your web browsing experience more convenient and enjoyable. The information is stored on your hard drive and accessed whenever you go back to the website that originally gave you the cookie. They usually include an expiration date at which point they will be erased from your computer - it could be when you close your browser; or hours, days, months, or years after it is placed. Some don't expire at all. At the time of this writing I had a cookie stored on my computer that wasn't set to expire until Wednesday, February 25th, 2195 at 3:45:13 am - I deleted it.
Before you run out to your browser's options and delete and block all cookies, let me mention a few common uses of cookies:
* Cookies store information for 'shopping carts' at online stores. When you select an item and place it in the shopping cart, a cookie is created to remember the item and the price so that you can keep shopping. When you are done shopping you simply click the button to check out and the site accesses the information stored in the cookies to complete your order.
* Cookies can be used to remember logins and passwords. While this initially sounds a little disheartening, the purpose is really to save you time. Sites will remember the information for you so you don't have to type it in each time you want to access information.
* Cookies help websites customize their content and layout for you. If you are a diehard fan of the local college's basketball team, and you always access the stats and score from the game at a website, that site might use a cookie to send you straight to your team's page.
* Cookies help identify whether you have already visited a site. They can also count how many times you have visited the site in a given period of time.
* Cookies remember the last page or position you were on at the site. Like a virtual bookmark, this is especially helpful if you are reading online or accessing several pages of information.
There are many other ways cookies can be used, and there is obvious potential for abuse. You probably wouldn't eat a cookie given to you by a complete stranger, especially if you didn't know what was in it. The same common-sense principle holds true while you're online, and exercising a little caution can save you from a lot of heartache later on. Blocking any and all cookies will guarantee no personal information is leaked through the cookies, but many sites will either not be able to or will choose not to interact with you.
The trick, then, is to let the good cookies through while screening out the bad ones, not at all dissimilar to what you do when you hover over the cookie tray at a party - you take the ones you want and leave the rest behind. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
First, you can periodically delete all the cookies on your hard drive. This will systematically wipe out all unwanted cookies that have made their way to your computer. Unfortunately, it will also take care of all the good cookies too. If you only use the internet occasionally (i.e. a few minutes a week), this option might work for you.
Second, you can try to go about it manually. Many browsers that allow you to block cookies also include a feature that allows you to include a list of sites from which you will allow cookies. The advantage of this method is it places virtually complete control over cookies into your hands, allowing only those that you want to be placed on your hard drive. The disadvantage is that it can become very burdensome (at times downright annoying) having to constantly update the list of allowed sites.
Third, you can call in some third-party software to help out. The best programs will scan your computer to find all the cookies and put them into a table or list. This saves you the trouble of having to dig around your hard drive to find the files yourself (try looking for a folder named "Cookies"). Many programs will also indicate with some degree of confidence whether a given cookie is wanted or unwanted, and provide a convenient way to delete the ones that you decide you don't want.
Long gone are the days that we could feel secure... Read More
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified "phishing" as the... Read More
The most frustrating part of having Spyware on your computer... Read More
When it comes to a secure website and passwords it... Read More
Today,on most internet user's computers, we have the ability to... Read More
Do you really have to know how feeds work? Not... Read More
If you know what is the 'Fishing' then it's very... Read More
So you want to know who your kids are chatting... Read More
Can You Prevent Spyware, Worms, Trojans, Viruses, ... To Work... Read More
Credit card fraud is a growing problem for online businesses... Read More
Spyware and adware are becoming major problems for online surfers... Read More
Despite the current wave of identity theft and corporate security... Read More
Virus damage estimated at $55 billion in 2003. "SINGAPORE -... Read More
Spyware is software or hardware installed on a computer without... Read More
Have you ever got an email asking you to confirm... Read More
A crowded marketplace can lead to unethical webmasters using underhand... Read More
Pharming is one of the latest online scams and rapidly... Read More
Nowadays more and more people are using a computer. A... Read More
This is the second in a series of articles highlighting... Read More
Over the past few years as the internet has become... Read More
A little bit of time invested into learning about internet... Read More
Huge number of spyware software applications are available in the... Read More
Someone recently told me, "You would have to be a... Read More
You can detect spyware online using free spyware cleaners and... Read More
The movie Little Black Book features a young woman, Stacy,... Read More
No longer are viruses the only threat on the internet.... Read More
There has not been a time in the history of... Read More
NETWORK SECURITIES: IMPORTANCE OF SECURITIESComputers and securities must form a... Read More
Before you enter your name, address or any other data... Read More
When the Internet first came about, it was realized it... Read More
Have you ever bought a product or service from the... Read More
This is not some new fangled techno-speak, it is a... Read More
My first experience with a spyware BHO based infection was... Read More
Shopping for horse gifts or other gift items on the... Read More
Spyware/adware is a new major concern for PC users everywhere.... Read More
Well, this is an article I never thought I would... Read More
Internet is the ocean of knowledge. In this ocean you... Read More
What is computer security? Computer security is the process of... Read More
If you use emails actively in your communication, you must... Read More
It has been said that with the wealth of information,... Read More
The most frustrating part of having Spyware on your computer... Read More
The 1998 Data Protection Act was not an extension to,... Read More
Can you protect your computer from all possible viruses and... Read More
The E-Mail Identity Theft Scam is running Rampant. These E-Mail... Read More
A few nights ago I received an email from "2CO"... Read More
You may not realize it, but as you are surfing... Read More
During the release of a new software product specialized to... Read More
Abstract Homogeneous symmetries and congestion control have garnered limited interest... Read More
The words Corporate Security may conjure up images of a... Read More
While clicking from site to site on the internet you... Read More
Internet Security Internet Security