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Thread: Cookies

  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    Cookies

    I set my browser security/privacy levels to make it prompt me when a site wants to place a cookie on the PC. I trust all the sites that I use regularly and know can be trusted - like the Lounge for example.
    My friend accuses me of being neurotic because cookies 'cannot cause any damage to a PC' and the repeated prompts would drive him <img src=/S/nuts.gif border=0 alt=nuts width=15 height=15> . He thus allows all cookies.

    AdAware flags some cookies as 'dangerous', as does PestPatrol. I know cookies are used for retail sites to track checkout items so I know that, if I use these sites I have to put up with allowing cookies.
    Why do AdAware and PestPatrol flag some cookies as dangerous if they are not?
    Is there any evidence that one or more cookies have ever caused a problem on a PC?
    Is there a definitive answer as to whether they are 'dangerous' or not?
    Thanks
    Silverback
    Silverback

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Cookies

    Cookies aren't really dangerous - they are just text files, not programs. They can only store some general info plus what you provide to the web page. Cookies are strictly linked to a specific website, it is impossible for website A to read the cookie for website B. But some web pages contain advertising that comes from another website; if such an ad places a cookie for its own website, such a cookie can track usage patterns - if you visit sites A, B and C that all have ads from ad company Z, Z would see that you visited each of these. For this reason, I allow first-party cookies, but block third-party cookies. And I allow session cookies.

    See Are Cookies Dangerous? and Are HTTP Cookies Dangerous?.

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Cookies

    I probably shouldn't be posting, for I don't really know the answers to your questions, but... I can only say (knocking on wood, as it were) that after many, many years with my personal computers, I've never been harmed by any cookies. That's not to say that something COULD have happened that I wasn't aware of, but I'm a very careful surfer and it doesn't take even a few fingers to count the number of times I've had even a slight suspicion of a problem of security, of any kind.

    I worry a LOT about email and I'm very restrictive in whom I allow to have my "real" email address and I ALWAYS use "throw-away" email addresses for most things I do on the web, with a limited exception of a few long time trusted vendors and so on.

    Whenever I run Spybot and AdAware, I too wonder how they determine what a "tracking cookie" is, but whenever I check into it, they are always advertising places and such as that, so I allow them to be deleted by the spyware programs. In spite of all that, as I said, to my knowledge I've never been harmed or even hounded by anyone because of the amount of time that these tracking cookies remain on my computer. I've had just the opposite problem - having been "inconvenienced" by the loss of a good cookie or two which contained information of assistance. Can't win I guess. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  4. #4
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Cookies

    "... that one or more cookies have ever caused a problem on a PC?"

    No. I agree with Hans. The "dangerous" part (if one can call it that), the harm they can do, has nothing to do with the PC, but that they can track your behaviour.

    If you walk into a book shop, 6-12 months since last visit, they probably don't remember that you asked them about a book about architecture (if you're not a regular customer), but the little cookie file, can keep information from searches etc. (Not so good ex. since the real life visit to the shop would make one, more or less personally identifiable, not the case with cookies. Still, it may help them adjust their ads, get user statistics and more).

    But as we know they can also be a help for the user; doing searches at a library, at the online bank, at the Lounge etc.

    When I used IE, I had it set up as Hans, most of the time. But with Firefox, I don't allow cookies in general, no questions, no nothing. It's very quiet, and most of the time I can guess if the site and what I am doing needs a cookie. So instead I create exceptions, a whitelist, when I stumble on something that needs a cookie, and that sure ain't often. They do send cookies, but needed? Not for the most of the time.

  5. #5
    Plutonium Lounger Leif's Avatar
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    Re: Cookies

    I find Firefox has a more friendly control, in that it can be set to always give info on the cookie by default, and has an 'Allow for session' option (which I take to mean that if I *have* to accept a cookie to view the site, it is deleted at the end of the session.)

  6. #6
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Cookies

    Hi Leif,
    I find Firefox more friendly in everything. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> Yes, the information about the cookies, when prompted (your case) or when already set, is better than in IE.

    And yes, I use the "Allow for session" for some sites, in my "exception list". and maybe "Allow" for some other sites. But other than my exceptions, I don't allow cookies. No problem at all. And if stumble on a site that don't work as expected in some way, and I want it to <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>, I check if I need to allow JavaScript in NoScript, or if it is cookies that's needed.

    As the situation is with cookies used everywhere, I would not like to have the browser ask every time.

    Slightly off topic:
    IIRC, I earlier had to enable cookies at some HW sites such as Logitech and Asus to download, hmmm. Just checked; Logitech has done a make over, only needed JavaScript. No cookies at Asus Support either, only JavaScript. Maybe it was something else that needed cookies. Boy it went fast this time (but no record) at Asus; tested to download something, earlier they were notorious slow, even if selected Europe.

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