WHAT ARE COOKIES AND WHY SUPER COOKIES SHOULD CONCERN YOU



Cookies are small text files that get stored on your computer by websites that you visit.  A cookie can also be known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie or browser cookie.

WHAT’S THE POINT?

Cookies are mainly used to track website activity. Most websites will tell you that they use cookies to personalize your experience when visiting their website…true.  For example, when I signed up for my Gmail account at Google.com, the site used a cookie to store  into a file my name, email address and password. Now when I go to gmail.com, I do not have to type in that information again. My Internet browser recognizes that I am at gmail.com, looks for and finds the gmail cookie file on my computer and automatically provides my login information.

COOKIES GONE BAD

Anything that can be used for good can also be used for bad. There are some people that do not want to be tracked at all. Many of these people are familiar with how to use their web browser and delete cookies from their computer or only accept cookies from a few websites that they trust. However, there is a type of cookie called super cookie that cannot be deleted by typical means. You can clear your cache, web history and delete cookies all you want, and the super cookie will still be on your computer, tracking what you do.

A super cookie has the ability to re-create your web activity from the remnants of a regular cookie that has been deleted. Also, super cookies are never stored where regular cookies are, thus they are harder to find and subsequently harder to remove. Popular websites hulu.com and msn.com have been known to use super cookies.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

There is a free browser add-on from hotcleaner.com called Click & Clean. It helps the basic cookie deletion function of your browser do a better job of finding and deleting super cookies. As with any software, read and learn as much as you can about it before installing it on your computer.

Safe Computing,

John L. Jones

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