The Security Reasons For Removing Tracking Cookies

The more we use the internet, the more times web sites will place little pieces of software on our computer that are able to track our movements online.

These little pieces of software are called tracking cookies and they can leave you very vulnerable.

If you visit a web site and it uses a cookie for no good then you can have the places that you visited on the web exposed.

Keep in mind that most of the sites that use cookies on their web pages, use them for good reason – they want to be able to keep track of the web session that you are having.

On the other hand, if you run into a web site that uses cookie for a nefarious reason, then you might be in trouble.

Before I go on, let’s get a little deeper into what a cookie is and how it is able to track you.

What Is A Cookie?

The first thing that you have to remember is that a cookie is not a virus.

It is not a program that is able to cause you harm if you leave it unchecked.

A cookie is a piece of software that is loaded onto your computer through the use of an http header that is sent to your computer from the web site that you are on at the time.

Once there, it is able to store information about the session that you are having while you are on the site.

For example, if you are using a shopping cart on a web site, then you are seeing the power of cookies – the web site is able to remember the stuff that you add to the cart through the use of cookies on your computer and it will then remember if you have deleted an item as well.

Most web sites, when they place a cookie on your computer, will set a date for it to be erased.

If they do not set a date it will be erased as soon as you close your browser again.

Tracking Your Movements With Cookies

Now, if you allow a web site to keep a cookie on your computer for a long period of time, then it will be able to track some of your movements and sometimes it will track your movements even when you are not on the web site that gave you the cookie.

This is why you want to make sure that you erase the cookies on your system after a certain amount of time.

You do not want a web site tracking you for that long.

Each of the popular browsers that are out there has a way that you can delete cookies from inside of their interface.

Keep in mind, once you delete your cookies a lot of the settings that you have on other web sites will be erased – you will have to manually type all of that data in again.

But if you want to make sure that no one is tracking you, then this is a step that you will have to take.

Cookies by themselves are not bad things.

They help make the internet a little bit easier but they can be used by bad people so you have be aware of them at the very least.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Good write up Lee.

    I advise people to delete cookies on a regular basis, sometimes its a pain but its better to delete them. I do keep those for my more used places but the rest go daily.

    Firefox has a add-on called ‘Better Privacy’, its a super cookie safeguard, so you can get rid of those also.

    • I’d not come across that Firefox add-on before, thanks for pointing it out Dave.

      • I have been using it for several weeks now an it seems to work well.
        Its suppose to get rid of those hard to get rid of cookies.

Trackbacks

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