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What Are Cookies

September 10, 2018 | By Admin

What are cookies

A cookie is a small file that a website places on your computer in order to store information. The entire process is harmless, and can also be helpful because cookies do useful things by saving you from the trouble of logging into a site every time you open and close your browser, storing your shopping cart information between sessions, and several other helpful time savers. The ones that give cookies a bad name actually track users without their knowledge and help advertisers and several other entities build profiles of users. Many people aim at limiting the amount of information that is collected about them, and they do so by limiting the kind of cookies that their browser accepts and retains.

Browser Cookies

Cookies are considered to be a vital browser feature and you will actually find yourself unable to log into websites if you disable cookies. Cookies are tiny pieces of information stored by websites on your computer. They only comprise of bits of text and nothing else. The text can be a session ID, user ID, or any other text. For instance, web pages can be configurable – it is possible for a web page to have a Hide link capable of hiding a specific element on the page. This setting can be saved by the page on your computer with a cookie. When the page is loaded in the future, it will be able to analyze the cookie and automatically hide the element. After you clear your cookies, you will be logged out of all websites and these websites will not remember any settings you have changed on them. Cookies are thus very common and you probably have hundreds or even thousands stored in your browser even now.

Cookies are stored and managed by your web browser. You will first find a list of websites storing cookies and then you will be able to view the cookies themselves – despite the fact that it is usually not interesting to look at the content of the cookies – in your browser’s settings. If you use multiple web browsers on your computer, you will notice that each browser has its own set of cookies. The browser cookies can be managed from its settings window. The cookies will also get deleted by each browser’s Clear Private Data tool.

How to Delete Cookies (or) Remove Cookies

You should bear in mind that not all cookies are used for benign purposes. There are cookies also used for tracking your online activity. Ad servers send cookies along with ads in order to identify viewers and track all their online activities. This information is critical for building profiles of us as viewers that can be used for pushing relevant ad content at us whether we really like it or not. Some of these tracking cookies could also tie your online activities to your real-world identity.

Managing cookies is just part of a set of simple actions you can take to safeguard all your information and your privacy. If you don’t want other users of your computer to see your online activities, you can effortlessly clear the history of visited websites that each browser tracks. Explained below are steps that will help delete cookies in a few popular web browsers.

Clearing Cookies in Popular Web Browsers

Google Chrome
    • Click the Chrome menu button (three horizontal bars) and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
    • The Settings screen displays on a new tab. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and then click “Show       advanced settings”.
    • Click “Content settings” in the Privacy section.
    • The Content Settings dialog box displays. Click “All cookies and site data” in the Cookies section.
    • The Cookies and site data dialog box shows you how many cookies have been saved for each site that saved cookies on your computer. Each site comprises of buttons representing each of the cookies for the site. To delete a single cookie from a site, click one of the buttons and then click “Remove”.
    • Delete all the cookies from that site in order to click the “X” button to the right.
    • To remove all the cookies for all the websites in the list, click “Remove All”.
    • When you have completed deleting cookies, click “Done” on the Cookies and site data dialog box and again on the Content settings dialog box.
    • If you know you want to delete all cookies and website data, not individually, there is a quick way to do this. On the Settings tab, click “Clear browsing data” under Privacy.
    • On the Clear browsing data dialog box, ensure that the “Cookies and other site and plugin data” box is checked. You can also indicate a time frame for which you want to delete the cookies from the drop-down list at the top of the dialog box. You can select from the past day, the past week, the past hour, the last 4 weeks, or the beginning of time. Click “Clear browsing data” once you’re ready to delete all your cookies.

Mozilla Firefox
    • Open the main Firefox menu (three horizontal bars) and then click “Options”.
    • The Options open on a new tab. Click Privacy in the list of items on the left side of the tab.
    • There are two ways to examine the cookies saved on your computer, based on which option is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list. Click the “remove individual cookies” link if “Remember History” is selected.
    • click the “Show Cookies” button on the right if “Use Custom Settings for History” is selected in the dropdown list.
    • The Cookies dialog box shows a list of all the websites that have put cookies on your computer. Click the arrow next to a site name in order to view a list of the individual cookies placed by that site. To delete just one cookie, select the cookie in the list, and click “Remove Selected”.
    • To delete all cookies for a specific website, select the website folder and click “Remove Selected”.
    • Click “Remove All” to delete all cookies for all websites in the list.
    • When you have completed managing your cookies, click Close to close the Cookies dialog box.
    • You are brought back to the Options tab. Just like in Chrome, there is also a quicker way to delete all cookies. Ensure that the Privacy screen is active on the Options tab and click the “clear your recent history” link under History. This option is available only for the “Remember History” option, not when “Use Custom Settings for History” is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list.
    • If the “Never Remember History” option is selected in the Firefox will dropdown list, the “clear all current history” link is available. The Never Remember History option causes Firefox to restart in private browsing mode.
    • Clicking either “clear all current history” or “clear your recent history” opens the Clear All History dialog box. Here you can select a Time range to clear.
    • Make sure the Cookies box is checked and then, click “Clear Now”.

Internet Explorer
    • Click the gear button in the upper-right corner of the browser window and select “Internet options” from the drop-down menu.
    • The Internet Options dialog box displays. To view and delete individual cookies, click “Settings” in the Browsing history section.
    • The Website Data Settings dialog box displays. Ensure that the Temporary Internet Files tab is active and click “View files”.
    • Windows Explorer opens displaying the contents of the INetCache folder. By default, the files are displayed as tiles, but you will have to display the details for the files in order to see the types of files. To display the details for the files, click the down arrow on the “More options” button above the list of files.
    • Select “Details” from the pop-up menu.
    • Scroll down until you find files labeled as cookies. They should have “cookie” in the Name and Internet Address. You can select one or more cookie files and then delete them either by pressing the Delete key or by right-clicking on them and selecting “Delete”. Hold down the Shift key while you press Delete in order to permanently delete the selected cookie files.
    • A confirmation dialog box displays. Click “Yes” if you really want to delete the selected cookie(s).
    • After deleting individual cookies, you can close the File Explorer window by clicking the “Close” button in the upper-right corner of the window.
    • To delete all your cookies, first close the Website Data Settings dialog box by clicking either “OK” or “Cancel”.
    • This brings you back to the Internet Options dialog box. Click “Delete” in the Browsing history section.
    • To delete all the cookies and website data, check the “Cookies and website data” checkbox on the Delete Browsing History dialog box. Select any other desired options and click “Delete” to remove the selected items.
    • You are brought back to the Internet Options dialog box. Click “OK” to close it.
    • A pop-up message gets displayed at the bottom of the IE window telling you that the selected browsing history has been deleted. There is an “X” button on the far right of the pop-up window you can click to close the message.

Should You be Worried About a Forged Cookie

A forged cookie is like a little token that is stored in a browser; however, it has been reverse engineered by the bad guys focusing on tricking a website into thinking it was the original cookie. Wondering whether you should be worried about such a cookie, Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security at SentinelOne, reported to NBC News that "usually this type of forged cookie hack is extremely difficult," and it would "only be possible after a very deep hack" into a website. Hence, you can place forged cookies low on the list of scary things to worry about on the internet. However, Grossman stated that changing your password on a regular basis should theoretically negate any forged cookies - should they even exist.

cWatch Comes To Your Rescue

A cookie is used for identifying a website user. As mentioned earlier, it is a small piece of text sent to a browser by a website accessed via the browser. It carries information about that visit like remembering the website visited preferred language and several other settings. This data is stored by the browser and it is then used to access the features of the website or the next time the same site is visited in order to make the access more personalized. If a website happens to use cookies for authentication, then it could be possible for an attacker to obtain unauthorized access to that site by obtaining the cookie.

Website security and browser security are thus extremely important to protect your identity and sensitive data. For instance, cookies are also used by online shopping carts. As you browse for DVDs on a movie shopping site, you will be able to add them to your shopping cart without logging in. Your shopping cart does not “forget” the DVDs, even as you jump from one page to another page on the shopping site, because they are preserved via browser cookies. It is also possible to use cookies in online advertising, to remember all your interests and then show you relevant ads as you surf the web.

By default a web browser is available with an operating system and it is set up with a default configuration which does not have all secure features enabled in it. Failing to secure your web browser leads to problems brought about by the installation of malware, viruses, worms, spyware etc into a computer and this indeed may cause intruders to take control over your computer. This indeed highlights the need to enable efficient security features in your web browser in order to minimize several computer-related risks.

There is now a simple solution to prevent such web security related issues caused by cookies. The solution here is installing Comodo cWatch, a comprehensive website Security-as-a-Service solution built on unmatched security intelligence and experience that includes a team of GIAC certified security engineers equipped to remediate any threat for you.

cWatch Web working from a security standpoint is available with the following features:

Web Application Firewall (WAF): This is a powerful, real-time edge protection for websites and web applications providing advanced security, filtering, and intrusion protection.
Secure Content Delivery Network (CDN): This is a global system of distributed servers that can improve the performance of web applications and websites.
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): SIEM provides improved intelligence capable of leveraging current events and data from 100M+ domains and 85M+ endpoints.
PCI Scanning: This scanning enables service providers and merchants to stay in compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Malware Monitoring and Remediation: Detects `malware, provides the methods and tools to remove it and also prevents future malware attacks.
Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC): cWatch provides a team of always-on certified cybersecurity professionals offering round-the-clock surveillance and remediation services.

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