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net technology

stopping advertising malware, including cookies

New translation, the Magna Carta

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browser-related:

software-related:

web technology zone at abelard.org

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Many sites will add cookies on your computer without your knowledge or consent. Cookies do not need to be malevolent, they can store your username and password for a restricted site to which you have subscribed, perhaps paying for the subscription because there is no other means of accessing wanted/needed information.

However, there are cookies, and associated web-sites, that are not as benign as the site adding them would wish you to think.

The cookies may not be just session cookies that self-destruct soon after you leave the site, but cookies that persist long into the future - to 2009, 2030 or beyond - continuing to collect data of where you visit on the net, what you look at ...... The information from such persistent cookies is passed surreptitiously while you are working on-line, either to a site you have visited, or to third-party sites that have paid for the data.

There are also some sites will not let you view their (as yet still free) content, despite having jumped the hoop of providing a user name/email and password, unless you allow them to set a cookie (or cookies). One such site is washingtonpost.com.

How to deal with this, if your browser is set to not accept cookies, and you would prefer not to change that setting? You can control and/or delete cookies as you wish – for details, see aboutcookies.org. This page has information for many browsers in their various versions.

Below is a simplified version from when we first wrote this page in 2004!

  • Set the browser security settings [1] to ask before it adds a cookie to your computer. That way, only the cookies you choose are added to your machine.
    But this does mean that, possibly, there may be nosey persistent cookies put on your computer without your full knowledge or control. Another nuisance of this setting is having to decide and answer for every cookie-adding site that you visit.
  • If you are using a MS operating system,
    then install a utility program, WinPatrol, that will watch what cookies are put on your computer, and ask you at chosen intervals whether you wish to delete them. Cookies you wish to keep, those for subscribed sites, can be checked so they will not be removed by WinPatrol,
    set your browser to accept cookies.
    You can also set unwanted keywords (nuts in WinPatrol’s jargon), for instance click, so that cookie urls that include that keyword are rejected.

    WinPatrol includes various computer and net utilities, such as one which will check whether you intended a new program to be installed or, with the latest version, another which allows you to lock the HOSTS file [more on this in Software for net security, in preparation] against unsanctioned changes. Although WinPatrol is free, a small one-time fee gives access to further features.

For more detailed information on cookie use at abelard.org, about their use generally on the internet see cookies at abelard.org and your privacy.

endnotes

  1. Examples under development

    M$ Internet Explorer :
    1. On the menu bar, choose Tools > Internet Options.
    2. In Internet Options, choose the Security tab.
    3. Choose the Internet icon (a green/blue globe).
    4. Click on Personalise level button.
    5. Scroll down to the Cookie section.
    6. There, choose the option you want, either
      • Authorise session cookies
        or
      • Authorise cookies stocked on your computer
        and set to Activate or Ask or Disactivate, as you wish.
    7. Click OK until the Internet Options window has closed.


    Mozilla FireFox (Netscape-type) :
    1. On the menu bar, choose Tools > Options.
    2. From the list, choose Cookies.
    3. Select Enable for originating Website only checkbox.
    4. Then choose which option you want from
      • accept normally
      • Current session only
      • Ask for each cookie
    5. Click OK until the Options window has closed.


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