To Cookie or Not To Cookie

There are a lot websites that we visit daily who put ‘cookies’ on our computers and into our browsers.

In reality, cookies are a small slice of data stored in a file on your computer. The cookie is used as a part of tracking software that can collect valuable information about you. These valuable pieces of information may be as innocuous as the last time you visited that site. Or more invasive as to track your searches online.

As a test of how intrusive some cookies can be, open a fresh google search. Now lookup some item you would not be likely to purchase online. For me, it was tires for my SUV. So, I searched for ‘Tires p225/65/r16’. A short time later, I was on Facebook and ads for tires started showing up in my feed. This is one example of how cookies work.

Another example is how the computer remembers your user name and password, when you decide to log into Facebook. Cookies, themselves, like cars, are neither good or bad. They have a purpose. Some organizations are overly aggressive with their use and requirement of cookies. But it is the advertising focus those cookies bring to that site host that generates the best income from their advertising partners.

In 2011, both the US and the European Union established regulations to govern just how cookies are used and how much your internet usage can be tracked. Unfortunately, these regulations have not done much to change up the way these intrusive, usually ‘third-party’ cookies are used.

Now that we know what cookies are, we can better determine what to do about them.

In recent years, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and other browser makers have instituted ‘Do Not Track’ programs within their browsers. Usually this is a setting that can be enabled or disabled, easily. Unfortunately, these tools are not 100% reliable, as they do not seem to block all cookies. And there are other options in most modern browsers to ‘clear cached data’, such as cookies. Unfortunately, this often results in that cookie that remembers your username and password to that website you have not been to in 6 months is also gone. I believe the best choice would be to only remove those cookies that have no use or only tracking you.

And of course, as soon as you remove the cookies on your machine … they will be back, as soon as you start surfing, again.

If you are determined to be rid of cookies and you do not want to have to remember to clear them, regularly, there are applications that regularly seek out cached information, such as cookies and removes them from your machine.

Otherwise, cookies are a fact of life. And just like the cookies in the store. Some are good, some are bad. Many are bad for you. And just like those store or bakery cookies, too many can be very detrimental.

One tool we use, here at Indy’s I.T. Department to clear the ‘bad’ cookies is called CCleaner, from Piriform.com. We have had a lot of success using it. It mostly clears away the tracking cookies, but sometimes, a cookie with cached data, like username and password also gets removed. CCleaner also has other useful features to help keep your machine maintained and running well. If you have questions, or would like someone to manage and maintain your machines for you, feel free to reach out to us. Drop me a line as daniel@indysitdepartment.com, sign up for our newsletter at http://indysitdepartment.com or call at 317-560-4443. We will be happy to help you keep your computer clean, clear and running well.

By | 2017-06-05T13:06:11+00:00 June 5th, 2017|Business, Policies, Security, Services|0 Comments

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