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  1. 1. Internet Cookies: The Good and the BadInternet cookies aren’t as complicated as you might think. The majority of cookies are used foryour convenience only, merely a tool companies use to make your visit to their website mucheasier and efficient, like saving your log-in information. Other cookies may be used to gatherinformation from your computer. In fact, many research companies today are utilizing thesecookies so they may find out information that people wouldn’t normally give out, like abortion,sexual offenses, or gun control information. These are the types of cookies that may, naturally,raise some concerns about privacy.Since the year 2000 internet cookies have been a major media spectacle. This is largely due tothe fact that companies are storing information on your computer, simply to retrieve this data at alater time…but let’s analyze this carefully. Internet cookies are simply name-value pairs, or ifyou rather, data with a name and given value. Let’s say that Ebay wants to store a cookie on yourcomputer that holds your log-in information. The name of thecookie may be User_ID while the value is a list of numbers andletters, much like a serial number, that the website may translateinto your actual log-in information. This type of cookie is benign,and cannot be used to view information on your computer. In fact,it is very practical, especially if you frequent the websiteregularly. These cookies work within the privacy laws to makeyour life easier.On the other hand, there are internet cookies that are utilized toview personal information stored on your computer, like creditcard information. These cookies work within the privacy laws only if they ask your permissionfirst. We’ve all seen it before, type in your credit card number and a message pops up asking ifyou would like to store this information. It is the almost viral cookie, the one that doesn’t askpermission to view personal information that is considered unlawful. There have been countlesscases of identity theft utilizing this exact method. Fortunately, the human race has come a longway in how to protect your computer form this sort of theft. Any computer user with McAfee orNorton Antivirus shouldn’t worry about this.
  2. 2. Internet Cookies: The Good and the BadOf course, there are ways to disable cookies on your computer. Just click on the privacy settingbutton within the toolbar of your internet browser and follow the prompt that will lead you to theoption of disabling the cookies (this is how to enable cookies). However, there are a lot ofwebsites that won’t actually let you enter any information or make a transaction without firstenabling your cookies. This is not to be a burden for you so much as a benefit; a security settingmade specifically for the user. This actually prevents what is called “Session Hijacking,” where ahacker will virtually place himself between the user and website, assuming the role of the userand reaping all the benefits. By enabling your cookies, the website may then make sure that theinformation you are giving is form your actual computer and that they don’t, in turn, give yourinformation to the hacker.All in all, cookies are a good thing and aren’t quite what they are hyped-up to be. Madespecifically with the convenience of the user in mind, internet cookies are what make browsingwebsites both convenient and efficient. Simple anti-virus programs are now capable of blockingeven the most potentially threatening cookies. Of course, when in doubt, disable cookies on yourinternet browser and surf away resting assured that your information isn’t being given out freely.