Friday, March 7, 2008

CookieS

CookieS are act main part when we talk about internet security.
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You have little to fear from the edible variety, but the digital ones can be a major threat to your security and privacy. A cookie is a tiny text file (usually less than 1kb in size), which is created and stored on your hard drive whenever you visit a dynamic (or an interactive if you like) web site. These are used to log your personal details so that you can access members only areas of web sites without having to type in a password every time, or to retain your customised settings so that they are available the next time you visit. If you're using a shared computer, anyone who visits the same site that you have previously logged in to can access your accounts. This is particularly worrying if you have entered your credit card details into a form on an e-commerce site. If your browser is set to automatically fill in these details whenever you return to a previously visited site, this information could be clearly visible - you don't need me to explain the problems this could entail.

The solution to this problem is to delete any cookies which contain sensitive data once you have completed your transactions. Your cookies will be stored in a different place depending on which operating system you are using so you will have to use your detective skills to find them. As an example, in Windows XP they are located in your

'c:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Cookies' directory.

If you look in this directory, in some cases it is easy to identify which cookie is associated with which web site, but in other cases it's not so obvious. The cookie which was created when you visited Yahoo.com to check your email may be called USERNAME(ID)@yahoo.txt for example.
Unfortunately some cookies refer to the IP address of the site you visited and so look more like
USERNAME@145.147.25.21.
These cookies can be selectively deleted one at a time if it's obvious which ones are causing a threat to your security, or you can just wipe out the whole lot in one fell swoop and have them recreated as and when they are required. However, if
you're really struggling to find your cookie jar, you could delete your cookies via your browser's tool bar instead. In Internet Explorer this can be done through the 'Tools' > 'Internet Options' menu items.

If all this sounds like too much hassle, you can always find a labour saving program which will be happy to take the job off your hands. These 'cookie crunching' programs allow you to be more selective when editing, viewing and deleting cookies from your system, and some of them will even prevent cookies from being created in the first place.

Urls:
http://www.rbaworld.com/Programs/CookieCruncher/ -Cookie Cruncher
http://www.thelimitsoft.com/ -Cookie Crusher