June 6, 2012

Cookies on the Internet

As you sit at your computer and surf the Internet, you can’t help but be amazed at how the Internet has opened up one’s ability to visit lands and sights and gather information you might never be able to without it. Indeed entering an area of interest and with a simple click of a mouse, you receive potentially millions of ways to explore the subject of your choice. But something that is frequently looking for you as you search are cookies.

Cookies are small text files, sometimes encrypted. They are often located in web directories and are placed by web developers to allow visitors to travel their sites in an organized manner. Session cookies store information about a visitor’s travels on the sight, allowing the visitor to pick up where they left off, following an interruption. If you happen to be doing some shopping on a site, cookies can also keep track of your choices as you go along, not requiring you to list everything you selected at the end of your session.

Cookies should not be considered viruses. Cookies are made up of simple text, not code. Thus, they can not receive an order to execute and they are unable to execute by themselves. They are unable to copy themselves or spread to other networks and wreak havoc.

However there is a chance for cookies to be used as a form of spyware, as they contain information regarding a visitor’s browsing history and preferences. However most common computer security products and anti-spyware programs are knowledgeable about cookies and frequently bring them up for deletion following security scans.

While cookies are unavoidable while surfing the Internet there are two things one can do to keep protected. One is to set your browser’s cookie setting to a security level you are happy with. The second is to keep a reliable and updated security and anti-spyware program on your computer.

Being aware of and ready for experiences with cookies will allow you to surf the Internet with confidence.

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