On the surface, cookies might sound tempting. Allowing cookies on your device and browser can have a sweet side and occasionally a bitter aftertaste if not managed properly.
First, a basic knowledge of how cookies work with browsers will go a long way toward knowing when to accept or reject them.
While cookies are designed to give you a more pleasant browsing or surfing experience, many people worry that accepting cookies means you are willing to reveal your personal information and make yourself vulnerable to hackers and malware. But is it true?
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What exactly are cookies?
In short, cookies are text files used to collect data. A cookie begins storing information when you connect to a website and tags your data with an ID uniquely associated with your computer. This allows the website to collect information unique to you and your previous activity on the website.
How exactly do cookies work
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- Once you log into the website, your web server transfers a cookie to your browser
- Your computer then stores the cookie on your hard drive.
When surfing the Internet, you may come across three main types of cookies:
- persistent cookies
- These cookies store data for a long time
- They come with an expiry date, which can range from a few days to a few years after your first visit
- Session cookies persist for as long as your browser is open
- Once you close your browser, all your information will be deleted.
- Also known as “tracking cookies”, these cookies track your broader online behavior
- Information collected from a website visit is shared with advertisers
- This advertiser will then be able to promote items on your social media based on your browsing history.
When cookies are a problem
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The possibility that your browsing history and other sensitive information can be easily tracked poses a privacy and security risk. That said, they collect a lot of your personal information, including your IP address, browsing history, and if you are tracked by third-party cookies, your information may be sold to advertisers who will then target you.
Cookies are not immune to cyber attacks. Even more dangerous is when your computer or device isn’t protected with a strong password and up-to-date security software. This information could be accessed by cybercriminals who specialize in snooping on cookies that store credit card, financial login credentials, and other sensitive information.
If privacy and security aren’t important enough, cookies can also cause problems with website performance. This can happen when a large number of cookies are stored on your device causing the browser you are using to slow down.
When should I not allow cookies?
Many websites will not allow you to access them if you do not accept cookies. As long as it is a safe, trusted website, allowing cookies is not a threat. If you are visiting a website that seems odd or untrustworthy, you should not allow cookies. An easy way to determine this is to check the website address in your browser. Make sure there is a lock at the beginning of the URL address. This means that all data on the website is encrypted.
From time to time, you may be prompted to enable or accept third-party cookies. These are the types of cookies that are most specific to you. If you want to be extra careful, it’s best to refuse to accept third-party cookies, as you have no control over where your information may end up.
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Can I manage my cookies?
Thankfully, like many browsers, Google Chrome provides an easy way to manage stored cookies:
- Click on the Chrome menu
- click on preferences
- Click on Privacy and Security
- Click Cookies and other site data
Here you will have several options, including whether to block all cookies.
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Blocking all cookies is not recommended as it may make some websites inaccessible and make it less convenient to log in to websites you visit frequently. Blocking third-party cookies prevents your browsing activity across multiple sites from being easily recorded.
Ways to keep your private information safe
While your information is safest on encrypted sites, especially if you block third-party cookies, we may accidentally allow cookies on unsecured sites. This immediately puts our online security at risk. If this happens to you, there are two ideal ways to protect yourself.
A virtual private network, or VPN, hides your IP address by rerouting your data through an encrypted tunnel. This makes your online and browser history almost impossible to track.I choose Express VPN As the best VPN. Benefits of a VPN include:
- Add a layer of enhanced security
- Prevent Internet Service Providers from monitoring your online activities
- Provides a way to bypass geofence blocks
- Can help improve connection speeds
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Install trusted antivirus software for safer browsing
Running solid antivirus protection on your computer is the best way to warn you if the website you’re visiting is trustworthy, even before you’re able to give your personal information to an untrustworthy site.
One of the top antivirus apps available for all devices, including Android and iPhone, is Total AV.Their products are packed with features to keep you safe from malware and protect you while browsing the internet, including ransomware protection, real-time antivirus protection, virus and malware removal, tools to free up space on your computer, and more.
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