Privacy and SecurityCOOKIES, were originally a simple code which did things like help the process of accessing regular sites without the need to repeatedly identify yourself or hold items in a shopping basket, and more recently to do little things like display your name in a welcome message,
They have made surfing faster, helped prevent some forms of fraud and helped webmasters with their research for planning and marketing purposes.
Unfortunately, this was undermined when 'the darker side' discovered cookies could be used track some internet activities. The problem for many is they consider internet activities to be private, and this information can be sold to spam merchants who make money out of knowing your lifestyle and preferences.
A cookie can be placed in your computer from a web site as it is loading. It is a text file to hold information. When you next visit the web site, it will search for its own cookie on your computer and send the information it holds back to the server where the web site is stored.
This is good for personal identification purposes, for example to prevent someone else accessing a web site where you have registered for a product or service, or to hold some log in information which speeds up the process, but all to often now, they are being used as the simplest form of spyware, although they are not, as yet, capable of searching or recording anything from your hard drive.
Whilst the vast majority of cookies are totally harmless, they can take up large amounts of space if you do not empty your cookie folder regularly.
Browsers and some security applications allow you to block cookies at a level according to your sensitivity, you can also block or allow cookies from specific web sites. A cookie will usually have the name of the account who accessed the web page, and the name of the web site or company follows a @.
To set/adjust your security levels, you need to open the Internet properties box.
Internet explorer, click tools on your tool bar and select internet options. You will find cookies under the privacy tab.
Netscape, Select Cookie Manager from the Tools menu, select Manage Stored Cookies, remove any cookie from the list, or remove all cookies.
Apple Mac, Choose preferences from explorer menu, select receiving files options, select cookies, select the cookies to be deleted from the list and press delete button
If you do not use any of the above browsers, Right click the internet Explorer icon on your desktop, Start menu or all programs list and select properties to open the Internet properties box.
In the internet properties box Click the Privacy tab and use the slide to adjust your settings.
you will also find a delete cookies button on the General tab.
You should note that some sites, particularly where fraud is a possibility, will not allow you access if you block their cookies. If you use any sites which requires some form of identification from you, banking is one example, but you still want to block all other cookies, you can instruct your browser to either block or allow cookies from particular websites.
To do this open the internet properties box as above and click the Privacy tab. Click the Sites... button near the bottom. Then either type or copy and paste (if you do not know how to copy and paste, Click here) the web site name into the box and click Allow or Block.
Ad-Aware SE Ewidow and X-Cleaner will all detect and remove known tracking cookies. All applications have free versions.
Spywareblaster is a free application that can block, amongst other things, tracking cookies.
Ace Utilities is a comprehensive disk cleaner, which wil help you easily and safely remove, amongst many other things, cookies.
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