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Monday, November 29, 2010

What are cookies? A Brief Tutorial


Maybe you're not aware of the fact that if you have the "allow cookies" feature in your browser on, websites can store all sorts of information on your harddrive. Cookies are small files that contain various kind of information that can be read bt websites when you visit them. The usual usage is to track demographics for advertising agencies that want to see just what kinds of consumers a certain site is attracting. Web sites also use cookies to keep your account information up-to-date. Then for instance when you visit your e-mail webbased account without being unlogged some hours later, you find yourself being logged on, even if you turn off your computer. Your login and password was simply stored on your harddrive in cookie file. This is security threat, in case that there is more persons who have the access to your computer.
Most of the browsers offer the possiblity to turn off the cookies, but some of sites like require them to be turned on. In case you decided to allow cookies, at least never forget to log off from the websites when you're finishing visiting them.
Cookies may be set by the server with or without an expiration date. Cookies without an expiration date exist until the browser terminates, while cookies with an expiration date may be stored by the browser until the expiration date passes. Users may also manually delete cookies in order to save space or to avoid privacy issues.
As text, cookies are not executable. Because they are not executed, they cannot replicate themselves and are not viruses. However, due to the browser mechanism to set and read cookies, they can be used as spyware. Anti-spyware products may warn users about some cookies because cookies can be used to track people—a privacy concern, later causing possible malware.

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