We tell you how cookies work, what they are and whether they threaten your privacy and security.
These are just a few examples of messages that appear before your eyes every time you open a new site. Many of you probably just ignore these messages and click on the " Accept " button without even thinking about the consequences.
What kind of cookies are we actually talking about? Of course, this does not apply to cookies at all (from English: cookies – "cookies"). In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about cookies.
What are Cookies?
Most cookies do not contain information about you personally. They usually store the following data:
- The expiration date for cookies.
- The name of the website that placed the cookie on your device.
- A unique number that helps the site identify you as the same visitor every time.
The last point may confuse you. However, this is not really something to worry about at all. Let’s take the following example:
You go to site X and create an account. The website will store a cookie on your device that will help it recognize you as an already registered user. When you open this website again, the cookie will authenticate you as an existing user who successfully logged in earlier, so you don’t have to do it again and again.
Based on our research, we present to your attention the most common cookies that you may encounter in practice.
From a privacy point of view, these cookies do not contain any important information that scammers can get. They have a specific lifespan that usually expires a few seconds or minutes after the browser or web page is closed.
Most often, e-commerce sites use session cookies. This is how they are able to remember which products you put in your shopping cart. Without these cookies, sites would have already removed items from your shopping cart by the time you open the checkout page. Moreover, the site would not even understand that you are the user who put them there.
Websites store these cookies for a longer period of time on your device so they are not deleted when you close the page or browser. Their average period of activity is several years.
Each time you visit a particular site, these cookies will be sent to the resource so that it can recognize you as a unique user. The site will also receive your cookies if you follow a link (such as an advertisement) from a resource page.
In this way, persistent cookies help websites track your behavior and how you interact with ads on their pages.
Regardless, persistent cookies are very useful. It is thanks to them that you do not need to re-enter your account when visiting the same site. Moreover, the resource remembers the preferred settings for your profile (for example, the language you speak).
Generally, persistent cookies will be stored on your device if you use the " Remember me " option when you log in or register on a site.
Without these files, the resource will not remember your personalized settings.
These are the cookies that the site uses to determine the number:
- page views;
Sites may share the data they collect with advertisers using these cookies. In addition, various analytics programs use them to evaluate user behavior.
These are cookies that are used by the site, but do not own them. Third-Party cookies are at the mercy of third-party plug-ins on the resource, such as advertising, chat and social networks.
Advertisers typically use these cross-site user tracking cookies to create effective, targeted ads.
HTTPS websites use these types of cookies to protect their customers’ data. For example, an e-commerce website may use them on checkout or checkout pages to ensure secure transactions.
Cookies themselves are legal. In the end, they are needed in order for site owners to make it comfortable for users to find their resources.
You can read more about existing laws by following this link.
Generally, cookies do not threaten your privacy. They make life easier for users by making their interaction with websites more comfortable.
However, if the purpose of the site is to profit from sharing data about you with advertisers, any kind of cookie may threaten your privacy. This is especially true for all third-party cookies (” Third-Party cookies ") that will track your activities. For example, if you’re on a site that has 15 different ads, 15 separate cookies will be placed on your device, even if you haven’t clicked on those links.
So from this point of view, cookies and your privacy are still linked.
What about my personal safety?
In theory, a hacker is able to intercept cookies over an insecure connection and inject their malicious code into them. However, this will not really do much for him, since only opening these files will cause damage to your device. This will only happen if there was some kind of vulnerability that a hacker could use to force your browser to execute the cookie.
However, this kind of error is unlikely to occur in popular browsers.
And yet: a hacker is able to intercept your cookies to create a malicious copy of them, which will allow him to use your accounts. This, for example, has already happened with accounts on Yahoo!
Many people say they can, but that’s not true. A VPN can only encrypt your internet connection and hide your IP address. Basically, it will save you from:
- listening to your web traffic;
- monitoring your behavior on the Internet;
- government spying on your internet activity;
- Advertisers track your IP address and show you targeted ads.
A VPN cannot protect you from websites using cookies. The VPN server will not intercept files sent to your device as it is not designed to do this.
However, the good news is that a VPN could theoretically prevent hackers from creating fake cookies. Fraudsters usually pull this off by intercepting your cookies over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Since a VPN encrypts all your traffic, cybercriminals will not be able to track it and intercept data packets.
The easiest way to reduce tracking is to clear your cookies regularly. This article provides step-by-step instructions for both computers and mobile devices.
Using Special Extensions
Instead of manually deleting cookies every time, you can use the extension to save you time. Cookie AutoDelete is one of the most popular extensions. It is open source and automatically deletes cookies when you close a tab.
The extension is available in Firefox, Chrome and Microsoft Edge. In Opera you can use Self-Destructing Cookies. Also, if you use CyberGhost, you can use their Cookie Cleaner extension for Chrome and Firefox. It has a nice and simple interface. Also, this extension is free, so you don’t need a special paid subscription, even if you’re not a user of it.
Browsing pages in incognito mode
In incognito mode, the browser does not store any cookies or site data. However, keep in mind that incognito mode will not make your browser completely private, but only save you from cookies.
I Don’t Care About Cookies
This extension will get rid of all cookie warnings on many websites. It will save you time because you won’t have to constantly click on "OK" in pop-up windows.
Make sure you only use it when you’re sure you won’t forget to clear your cookies later.
Although their name is similar to " cookies ", they are different. There are two types of super cookies.
These super cookies store information very similar to that of regular cookies. However, they may download data to different locations on your hard drive. Thus, the usual steps to delete such cookies are not enough.
Flash cookies are typically used in video advertisements. They can store useful information for advertisers, such as when the video was paused by the user. Be careful: they can become a threat to revealing your personal information. Because you can’t delete them using normal methods, these super cookies will spy on your browsing activities.
2 ISP Super Cookies
While flash cookies behave in much the same way as regular cookies, ISP super cookies are nothing like them. You will not be able to delete the ISP super cookies because the provider stores these tracking files on its own servers. They will be added to your data packages whenever you surf the web.
These super cookies can indeed be dangerous in exposing your personal data. They contain UIDH (Unique Identifier Headers) which allow your ISP to recognize every device connected to its network. In addition, these super cookies allow providers to keep track of their customers’ online activity at all times.
As a general rule, ISPs must provide their customers with the option to opt-out of being tracked using supercookies. Otherwise, they can get fined, as happened with Verizon.
You won’t be able to do it manually, but there are special tools that will help you with this.
Using Flash Settings Manager to Delete Flash Cookies/LSOs
Get started by following this link. If Flash Player is not active in your browser, you will need to enable it by clicking on the message "Click to enable Adobe Flash Player".
You will see a panel with several tabs. First, click on the second tab from the right (yellow folder with green arrow ). Click on the "Delete all sites" button to delete all cookies that have been stored on your device.
Then click on the second tab from the left (globe image, yellow folder and green arrow). Drag the slider all the way to the left (“no”) and check the box next to “never ask again”. In addition, disable the other two options. This should prevent websites from placing flash cookies on your device in the future.
VPN vs ISP Super Cookies
A VPN won’t save you from regular cookies, and it certainly won’t be able to delete flash cookies. But there is a chance that it will prevent your internet connection from being compromised by an ISP super cookie.
How? By encrypting traffic. ISPs will not be able to insert tracking headers into your internet connection. Moreover, existing super cookies will not track your activity.
Yes and no. They are good because they help websites make the user’s experience on the website more enjoyable. However, there is a threat to your privacy when advertisers come into play.
Of course, super cookies are dangerous for your privacy. We see the point in using flash cookies, but ISP supercookies just keep track of you and don’t do you any good.
Sourced from TechNadu .