Why Web Cookies That You Cannot Delete Can Be Dangerous

Unless you are a person that builds web sites seriously for a living you probably do not know all of the underlying technology that affects you when you surf the internet.

Even if you are a person that builds web sites, unless you build both the client and the server side technology, then you still might not realize all of the interactions that happen when you surf the web site.

While a web page may seem simple it is actually quite complicated.

Even the simplest web sites on the internet have a load of complications that allow it to be seen on your home computer.

One of the interactions that happens on your computer when you surf the internet is the cookie.

web-cookies

It is a piece of software that allows the web site that you are visiting to save data about you.

This data allows the web site that you are visiting to save information about your visit so that when you come back next time you will not have to start over.

But now the technology is becoming more advanced and web sites owners are trying to take the technology to the next level.

Nervous Cookies

When some people hear what the cookie technology can do they get a little bit nervous about the implications as they believe that the technology can be used to spy on them.

For the most part the technology is relatively benign but it can be used to harm you.

Some web site owners have come up with ways that will allow them to steal the cookie information that is on your computer from other web sites.

There are several other attacks that can be performed by the cookie technology that is out now and you must be careful about that too but that is not what this article is about.

This article is about the new generation of cookies that are being created right now.

The New Technology Behind Cookies

While not in wide usage now, there are some programmers out there that are working on cookies that cannot be deleted from the system.

This good news for web site owners but not good news for the end user.

The way that some of these new cookies are being implemented can be worrisome to some users.

One the ways that it is being done is by placing the cookie information in several places on the user’s computer.

Usually when a cookie is saved on the users system it is in one folder and it is easy to delete.

Normal computer users can just use the browser that they are using to delete the information and savvier computer users can go directly to the folder and delete the cookies.

With the new technology behind cookies you would have to go to several places on the computer to be able to delete this information.

Another aspect of how these cookies will save the information from a person’s web site visit is through the use of Flash technology.

Flash has a cookie technology that they use which is called Local Shared Object.

These files are not temporary like normal cookies are and they can be notoriously hard to get rid of.

This has caused a backlash when it comes to knowledgeable consumers and this technology.

Some people are trying to use this same model to be able to bring normal cookies to this level of effectiveness.

Why You Don’t Want These Cookies On Your Computer

The reason why you do not want this type of technology on your computer is because if it is attacked by some rogue hacker then it can affect your web session for a long time.

When a useful technology is hard to get rid of then that means that if the technology has been exploited then that exploit will be hard to get rid of as well.

You must make sure that you keep the users in mind when it comes to this type of technology.

No-one can promise that this technology cannot be exploited so why put the users at risk?

Right now you are able to set the time that the cookie is on the user’s computer.

This time that you set can be for a long period.

So why make it so that the user cannot get rid of the tracking data that you put on the computer?

Make sure that the web site that you visit is not putting any data that you do not want on your computer.

Check the policy and the reviews of the web site and if you see something that you do not like then you should avoid the web site if possible.

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. Hi Lee
    I suppose some of those cookies you are talking about are the so called ‘super cookies’,, the ones that hide out an just deleting cookies the regular way doesnt touch some of them.
    Well not sure how good it is but i use a little addon in Firefox called Better Privacy – its suppose to help get rid of the super cookies.

    • Yep, “super cookies” is certainly an apt description Dave.

      I’ve been using Chrome a lot recently but I sure miss the benefits of addons with Firefox so I may have to check out Better Privacy and maybe even write about it in the future…

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by john sundman, David Goss, @daily_hymn, netsafetyMom, Lee and others. Lee said: Why Web Cookies That You Cannot Delete Can Be Dangerous http://bit.ly/athUAz […]

Speak Your Mind

*