are text string messages
given to a Web browser by a Web server. Whenever you visit a web page or navigate different pages with your browser, the web site generates a unique ID number which your browser stores in a text (cookie) file that is sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from that server. Cookies allow third-party providers such as ad serving networks, spyware or adware providers to track personal information. The main purpose
of cookies is to identify users and prepare customized Web pages for them.
- Persistent cookies have expiration dates set by the Web server when it passes the cookie and are stored on a user's hard drive until they expire or are deleted. These types of cookies are used to store information between visits to a site and collect identifying information about the user such as surfing behavior or preferences for a specific web site.
- Session (transient) cookies are not saved to the hard drive, do not collect any information and have no set expiration date. They are used to temporarily hold information in the form of a session identification stored in memory as you browse web pages. These types of cookies are cached only while a user is visiting the Web server issuing the session cookie and are deleted from the cache when the user closes the session.
The type of persistent cookie that is a cause for some concern are "tracking cookies
" because they can be considered a privacy risk
. These types of cookies are used to track your Web browsing habits (your movement from site to site). Ad companies use them to record your activity on all sites where they have placed ads. They can keep count of how many times you visited a web page, store your username and password so you don't have to log in and retain your custom settings. When you visit one of these sites, a cookie is placed on your computer. Each time you visit another site that hosts one of their ads, that same cookie is read, and soon they have assembled a list of which of their sites you have visited and which of their ads that you have clicked on. They are used all over the Internet and advertisement companies often plant them whenever your browser loads one of their banners. Cookies are NOT a "threat"
. Cookies cannot be used to run code or to deliver viruses to your computer. As text files they cannot be executed to cause any damage. Cookies do not
cause any pop ups or install malware.As long as you surf the Internet, you are going to get cookies
and some of your security programs will flag them for removal. However, you can minimize this by referring to:AutoComplete
is a feature that allows your machine to remember and store your passwords
and other information. Autocomplete will store words that you have previously put into search boxes and forms at Web sites such as search strings, names, email addresses, passwords and credit card numbers. As you type, AutoComplete tries to anticipate what you are typing so it can automatically fill in the necessary information when returning to websites you previously visited. This is intended to save time by not having to re-type the same information. The autocomplete feature can also save the list of programs you started from the Run dialog box and the search queries you performed offline while searching for documents on your computer.Using the AutoComplete feature is a significant security risk
. If someone else uses your machine with the same account, they may be able to get access to your username and password information. That would allow them to visit those websites which require a password for security purposes. If your machine becomes infected with a backdoor Trojan
, a remote attacker could gain unauthorized access to the computer and steal sensitive information like passwords, personal and financial data
. By the time you find out your passwords have been compromised, its probably too late
. For maximum security and privacy its best to Disable AutoComplete
. (instructions with screenshots