Should I worry about "cookies" (web, not baked)?
Cookies are tiny files stored on your computer by Web sites you visit.
The overwhelming majority of cookies are harmless. When your security
tool finds a "tracking" cookie from a reputable site, you don't
need to be concerned - the cookie is probably just counting visits, or
something equally benign.
In most cases, a cookie can only store information that you provided.
When you fill out a form on a web site and type in your name, address,
opinions or preferences, that information can be stored in a cookie. Otherwise,
all the site knows about you is that you visited at a certain time, from
a certain network, using a particular Web browser, looked around (or not)
and left. The idea that your privacy is being invaded is silly, since
you voluntarily provided the information in it.
Several years ago, cookies got a bad name from some unscrupulous Web
site operators. They solicited personal user information under false pretenses
and then combined it with information the same people provided on other
sites involved in the "scam". The collection and misuse of the
private customer information collected in these Web sites was fraudulent,
were the "red flag" that led to the discovery of the fraudulent
That kind of scam has mostly stopped, but other scams have taken their
place. Check out our information on hoaxes, scams
and phishing. These are much more dangerous
to your personal privacy and security.
There are also viruses, malware, worms, and trojans to worry about. These
are not only a threat to your computer but to privacy. Some of these use
cookies as part of their operation, but the problem is the software or
program that's creating the cookie, not the cookie itself.
To protect yourself against cookie abuse, use your normal security tools
(anti-virus, firewall, spyware scanner) and know the sites you're dealing
stating exactly what information they do and do not collect, and what
they use it for - it has legal force. Read it. This is where they tell
you they will send you commercial mail or give your email address to
To delete cookies from your computer, read the "help" in your web browser.