Protecting Your Privacy: Handing Internet Cookies

by hmiller 29. October 2009 19:26

Internet cookies are often misunderstood as wretched little monsters that attach themselves to your computer so Internet hackers can spy on you! Thankfully this is not the case. A cookie is just a text file sent to your computer that saves basic information about you so the next time you visit the same website, it can retrieve the cookie from the website and recognize you as a returning visitor.

The idea of a website placing something on your hard drive to get information from you can sound a little scary. Some very private people have no interest in being recognized upon returning to a website and see this as an invasion to their privacy, regardless of the benefit that it could be to them. Usually, a cookie is only an identification method meant to benefit you, much like a person who runs a general store in a small town can be more helpful because he or she knows many of the customers and their preferences.

Sometimes, cookies also save information about the pages you visited, the searches you performed, and the items you bought while on a website. For example, an online store like Amazon noted that you often buy or search for books from the romance genre and would use this information to recommend other romance books when you visit the site again. This is a marketing tactic, but is still helpful to the customers.

The information that a website can gather from tracking the habits of its customers could become invasive. They could (and some do) sell their information (like shopping or surfing habits) and their email addresses to third parties, so they can send soliciting emails, or spam to your inbox based on searches or purchases you have made.

The following are a few ways to control cookies if you are highly concerned about the risk of becoming spammed with advertising from other parties. Keep in mind that none of these options are recommended or necessary for your safety. Most anti-virus programs and Internet browser filters are already designed to protect you from harmful websites and spyware. Also, these options will limit your use of the Internet and some may cause certain websites not to function correctly or at all.

* Check the privacy policy in the terms of service on websites you visit. Many reputable websites have privacy policies saying they will not sell your information to third parties. If this is the case, they should be safe to visit and allow any cookies from them.

* Don't register your personal information on websites. Many website require that you register and provide your email address to use certain features on their site. If you do not want your personal email address to be spammed, you can set up free email account to use for this purpose, like Yahoo Mail or Gmail, and use a name and address other than your own. You can also simply refuse to use these sites, but this could severely limit your shopping options.

* In your Internet Options, click on the Settings button under Browsing History (or Temporary Internet Files) and click Veiw Files. You can select all or some of the cookies that are stored on your computer and view or delete them as often as you like. This will not, however, prevent websites from reassigning a cookie to you if you visit their site again.

* Under the Privacy Tab of Internet Options, you will see a slider that has different levels that handle cookies. You can raise or lower the strictness of cookie handling here, as well as manually enter a list of website that you trust from which cookies are always allowed. If, after you have made these changes, you cannot veiw a webpage, you may need to add it to your allowed list or lower your privacy settings so the website can load properly

*If you don't want to use the slider, simply click the Advanced button on the Privacy Tab of Internet Options, and check "Override automatic cookie handling". Then choose specifically how to handle different types of cookies. First party cookies are from the website and third party cookies are from other websites that the website you are visiting uses. The "Prompt" option will ask your permission on each separate occasion that a website attempts to save a cookie on your computer.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles!

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to

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