Delete Cookies: New-Age Diet or Common Sense Internet Security?

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.

Nick Smith is a client account specialist with 10x Marketing - More Visitors. More Buyers. More Revenue. For great software to help delete cookies, check out ContentWatch, Inc.

In The News:


Kitsap Sun

OC launches investigation of security director
Kitsap Sun
BREMERTON — Olympic College has launched an investigation of complaints against its director of campus safety in light of a vote of no confidence by the union representing security guards. The vote, taken in mid-January, showed 88 percent of members ...


The Sun

Security services knew of glaring weakness in Parliament security after 'war game' simulating attack on Westminster ...
The Sun
SECURITY services were aware of gaps in Parliament's security after a simulated attack ended with most MPs being killed, it has been claimed. A source quoted by the Sunday Times claimed a “table-top” exercise revealed four terrorists with automatic ...
Security chief told MPs they were safe in parliament before attackThe Guardian
Urgent review of security gates of Parliament needed after Westminster attackExpress.co.uk

all 56 news articles »

The Independent

Security breach renders in-flight laptop ban useless
The Independent
The airport which is the main target of the Government's ban on electronic devices has a security flaw that renders rigorous checks futile, The Independent can reveal. After clearing six separate security hurdles at Istanbul airport, passengers bound ...

and more »

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

JCC receives $200,000 to improve security - Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Funds will be used to upgrade cameras and other measures following two bomb threats at the Brighton facility this month.
JCC of Rochester gets $200,000 for security enhancements | WXXI ...WXXI News

all 4 news articles »

Reuters

Britain reviewing security at parliament after deadly attack
Reuters
Interior minister Amber Rudd told the BBC there would be another review of security at the Palace of Westminster, but that such arrangements were continually assessed. "There are constant reviews and updates so that we have the right form of defense in ...
London attack fuels calls for tighter Westminster securityThe Guardian
London attack: Parliament security under reviewBBC News
Questions over Parliament security as motorcyclist rides through gate shortly after terrorist attackTelegraph.co.uk
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
all 8,418 news articles »

The Japan Times

European security ties 'too precious' for Brexit talks
The Japan Times
LONDON – Britain's intelligence expertise may be “too precious” to use as a bargaining tool in the upcoming Brexit talks, experts said, after a terror attack in London highlighted the need for continued European security cooperation. The suggestion ...

and more »

New System Estimates Cleveland Airport Security Wait Times
U.S. News & World Report
New System Estimates Cleveland Airport Security Wait Times. Cleveland's main airport is developing a system to help travelers more accurately compare wait times at its security checkpoints and better plan their trips. | March 27, 2017, at 12:08 a.m.. MORE.

and more »

Huffington Post

What Don't We Talk About When We Talk About Israel's Security
Huffington Post
When Israeli and American Jews talk about “Israel's security” they are thinking about the Holocaust and about extermination. That is the reason they choose the narrowest possible definition of “security,” a strip. Israel's “security” is what we ...

and more »

Otago Daily Times

Ivory Coast rescinds port security measures, attack threat unfounded
Reuters
"After compiling the information ... it emerged that the threat is not real," the head of maritime security Colonel Bertin Koffi Tano wrote in a second order to the Abidjan and San Pedro port authorities and shipping companies on Sunday. "I ask that ...
Ivory Coast boosts port security over attack threatOtago Daily Times

all 5 news articles »

The Sun

Security alert at Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway as police called amid claims four men broke into the studio
The Sun
An ITV spokesman said: “A youth who attempted to gain access to the London Television Centre, as a prank, at 11pm last night was quickly apprehended by our security team when he triggered an alarm as he climbed an external wall. “He did not gain access ...
Ant and Dec at centre of security alert after four men tried to 'break into' Saturday Night Takeaway studioMirror.co.uk

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