Why I hate Internet cookies

My PC has been mis-behaving itself recently. I’ve been getting some Security Essentials warnings recently about an .html file that the software didn’t recognise. I am not aware that I have ever accessed this file and as the file was stored in my Temporary Internet Files folder, there’s a good chance it was part of an install.

The alerts were starting to become annoying. I cleaned my temp files folder (there were over 9,000 files in there) and I decided to tighten up my Internet security by tightening up my browser settings.

I felt that I was no longer in control of my PC. I hate that. I hate the way that files appear on my PC without my explicit say so. so I decided to do something about it…

imageIn Internet Explorer – the browser I use most often I went into ‘Internet Options’ and clicked on the ‘Advanced button’ in the privacy settings tab.

I ticked the dialog box to Override automatic cookie handling and set the cookie status to  the following:

I set the ‘First Party Cookies’ to Accept.

First Party Cookies are necessary on a site for you to be recognised as an individual visitor.

Blocking first party cookies makes it really hard to login to any site anywhere. Google certainly will not let you log in without accepting first party cookies.

I set the setting for ‘Third Party Cookies’ to ‘Prompt’.

I did this to see how many ad serving cookies were going to be placed onto my PC. Every time a hidden cookie tried to place itself onto my PC I would get an alert.

Each cookie belongs to a website – either the main website such as Facebook.com (First Party), or one of the ad server companies that serve ads within that site. These are domain names such as doubleclick.net, adsvr.org and advertising.com.

These third party cookies monitor your browsing habits and deliver ads to you. Often they deliver the same old ads over and over again.

I then did my work as usual for the rest of the day. I logged on to sites where I usually logged on, and blocked all cookies from each site that requested it through the Privacy Alert dialog box.

Now, 24 hours later I have had 168 Alerts from different sites that wanted to put a cookie onto my machine.

That is 168 sites with domain names I have never heard of, hiding on sites that I use regularly. Hidden, perhaps malicious sites that I would normally automatically grant access to place files on to my machine.

Most of these sites serve (hopefully) relevant ads. Some of these sites, as they are not under the control of the host web site, could introduce worms and other malware onto my machine.

You can of course, totally control your privacy by blocking ALL cookies. It makes it really difficult to browse the web and access the sites you need to. You can use a totally private website such as DuckDuckGo if you are tired of Using Google Search

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Or you could take the easy route and block all third party cookies from accessing your machine. After another 10 alerts as i visited another web site, I think that is going to be by far the easiest way to help keep my machine safe…

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

3 thoughts on “Why I hate Internet cookies

  1. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Eileen, have a look at Ghostery, a browser plug-in that will show you how many calls to 3rd party web sites pages you visit make. It is astounding to see—sometimes a single page visit on popular sites means 20 visits you don’t know about to “associate” sites, all tracking… For example, just visiting a IT company page that has a “Likes” counter means the viewer is forcibly “visiting” FB so that the current count could be retrieved. At the same time, that visit helps FB in tracking… Cookies are half the issue.

  2. John Breakwell

    Although I understand the point you’re making about security, cookies are only a privacy problem and nothing to do with security. If a cookie is being created on your PC then you have already contacted the website it’s for. By that point, it’s already too late.

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