Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Cookie Monster!

Internet cookies are basically texts stored on your hard drive that sites can access at future dates. Say for example you enter certain information or go to certain sites, these sites will in turn inject and leave these cookies as “temporary” files on your computer. Later on when you access these sites again, it is possible for them to use the settings you had previously used, log you in automatically, or show your other preferences immediately merely by accessing the cookies they had left behind. These are the benefits of cookies, making the internet experience much more personal and efficient.

Cookies are not without their downsides either. Advertising sites can collect these personal information from cookies and create databases which they can sell to other companies. Advertisements are shown on your computer based on sites you have visited and which they know of through cookies. Simply put, it makes these online advertising companies and database collectors much more efficient in finding stuff about the regular person than say perhaps mail-order or door-to-door product companies. Malicious cookies can also be left in your computer just by clicking links and allow hackers to access your personal information. If a computer is used by different users, cookies could be accessed and information about previous users could be obtained through them.

Certain internet programs clear out cookies on a regular basis, but browsers such as Mozilla Firefox does not. In the end users can always choose to clean out cookies to prevent any unwanted advertisements or data collection, but at the same time they would need to log-in each time they use a computer as well as reconfigure sites they frequently visit. It is definitely a trade-off each user has to weigh, convenience or that extra security?

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