Beware, Cookies Are Harmul For You!!!!

Beware, Cookies Are Harmul For You!!!!
"Cookies" are tidbits of information that Web sites store on your computer, temporarily or more-or-less permanently. In many cases cookies are useful and innocuous. They may be passwords and user IDs,so that you do not have to keep retyping them every time you load a new page at the site that issued the cookie. Other cookies however, can be used for "data mining" purposes, to track your motions through a Web site, the time you spend there, what links you click on and other details that the company wants to record, usually for marketing purposes. Most cookies can only be read by the party that created them. However, some companies that manage online banner advertising are, in essence, cookie sharing rings. They
can track which pages you load, which ads you click on, etc., and share this information with all of their client Web sites (who may number in the hundreds, even thousands.) Some examples of these cookie sharing rings are DoubleClick, AdCast and LinkExchange. 
For a demonstration of how they work, see:privacy.netBrowsers are starting to allow user control over cookies. Netscape, for example, allows you to see a notice when a site tries to write a cookie file to your hard drive, and gives you some information about it, allowing you to decide whether or not to accept it. (Be on the lookout for cookies the function of which is not apparent, which go to other sites than the one you are trying to load, or which are not temporary). It also allows you to automatically block all cookies that are being sent to third parties (or to block all cookies,entirely, but this will make some sites inoperable). Internet Explorer has a cookie management interface in addition to Netscape-like features, allowing you to selectively enable or disable cookies on a site-by-site basis, even to allow cookies for a site generally, but delete a specific cookie you are suspicious about. 
WithInternet Explorer you can also turn on cookies for a site temporarily then disable them when you no longer need them (e.g., at an online bookstore that requires cookies to process an order, but whom youdon't want to track what books you are looking at, what links you are following, etc., the rest of the time.) Turning on cookie warnings will cause alert boxes to pop up, but after some practice you may learnto hit "Decline" so fast that you hardly notice them any more. The idea is to only enable cookies on sites that require them AND whom you trust.

You can try out "alternative" browsers like Mozilla (Windows, Mac, Linux), Opera (Windows, Mac, Linux), Konqueror (Linux), and iCab (Mac), which may offer better cookie management.

You can also use cookie management software and services. One example is the Internet Junkbuster Proxy ( ). It runs on Win95/98/NT and Unix/Linux(no Mac version), and can selectively block cookies for you (and banner ads, to boot). interMute ( )  does likewise (and more - blocks popup windows, etc.; only runs under Windows).

Another Windows-only solution is AdSubtract ( )
A comparable product (Linux, Solaris, Windows) is GuideScope ( )

A Java-based solution called Muffin ( ) is also available. While it will run on Mac, Windows and Unix systems, it is definitely for "power users", as it is complicated to set up and operate effectively.

Another recent option (Linux, Mac, Windows) is the  ( ), which has advanced cookie filtering capabilities, especially with the Seclude-It and Secretmaker plug-ins available at the same site. One more (Windows) is CookiePal ( ), and yet another (Windows) is
 ( ).

There are also numerous "cookie eater" applications,
some which run on a schedule or in the background, that delete cookie files for you. As with turning off cookies entirely, you may have trouble accessing sites that require certain cookies (though in most cases the worst that will happen is that you'll have to re-enter a login ID and password you thought were saved.) "Eating" the cookies periodically still permits sites to track what you're doing for a short time (i.e., the time between successive deletion of your cookie file), but thwarts attempts to discern and record your actions over time.

Yet another option is to use an "infomediary" (some are home-use software products, others may be network-based services), such as SeigeSoft's SiegeSurfer ( ),Zero Knowledge Systems' Freedom ( ), among others. These products/services act as a proxy or shield between you and sites you visit, and can completely disguise to Web sites where you are coming from and who you are (and intercept all cookies). Most are Windows-only at this point, though
Orangatango ( ), and SafeWeb and ( ) also offersuch services that are Web-based and not platform-dependent.
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Write by: RC - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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