How Cookies Make you Vulnerable

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017

At Hungate Business Services, we love eating baked cookies – particularly chocolate chip.

What we don’t like are the kind of cookies that internet websites embed on PCs (usually as a file) during visits that can possibly lead to data breaches later. These cookies contain tracking software that gather and store important information about you, such as what you did the last time you visited a website and what items you viewed. Those pesky license agreements that you often agree to but never read are usually what make this sort of surveillance possible.

The use of cookies online is rampant, and many contend that having them improves the browsing experience. For example, it’s a cookie that allows you to bypass log-in when you re-visit a site or recalls your specific preferences based on previous choices and purchases. It’s also a cookie that makes it easy for you to shop in an electronic store using a virtual “cart.”

However, Hungate wants you to know that some cookies you inadvertently “pick up” may also be putting your privacy and computer’s safety at risk. For instance, if a site you’re viewing contains third-party applications, like an advertisement, these can also leave cookies (tracking software) on your computer. These cookies, which are served by another company (not the one you’re visiting), can also inject themselves onto your computer, compile data about your overall browsing history and then pass it on to others. In some instances, the “others” are cybercriminals who could use your cookies to impersonate you online and gain access to your accounts. Also, by hiding code in your cookies, the cybercriminals can potentially spread malware and manipulate you into visiting malicious websites.

Learn to Manage Your Cookies

What can you do? Hungate technicians suggest you increase your level of security by adjusting the privacy and security settings on your computer to block or limit which cookies you retain in your web browser. To make sure that other sites are not collecting personal information about you without your knowledge, choose to only allow cookies for the website you’re visiting; block or limit cookies from a third-party. (If using a public computer, always make sure your cookies are disabled to prevent other people from accessing or using your personal information.)

Cookies are maintained by your web browser, so the method for viewing and managing them varies depending on the browser you use. Go here to view instructions for how to delete and manage cookies for different versions of the Internet Explorer browser for Windows 10