Computer cookies or web browser cookies make our daily lives much easier for most of us not even realizing that they exist.
However, as it often happens with helpful features, Cookies might also pose a privacy risk and maybe even more than that.
So, are web browser cookies dangerous? And if so, what measures can we take to protect ourselves? Let’s find out!
What Are Web Browser Cookies?
Web browser cookies are small files that websites place on our drive. They get used to store login information and track our browsing habits.
No need to worry. The information that gets collected is not user-identifiable, not under normal circumstances at least.
I mean, someone might be able to see what websites you visited, things that you have bought online, and other stuff like that.
However, he won’t know who you are. Not your name, your face, or anything. That’s because normal Cookies don’t store this kind of information. There is a reason that I’m saying “normal” Cookies. We’ll talk about that in a second.
As a side note, the ability to safely store login credentials as well is very useful as you won’t have to type in your email and password every single time that you want to login to an account.
Are They Dangerous?
When it comes to technology, it’s very rare to find a simple and absolute answer which applies to everyone.
Are you a person who browses only legitimate and trustful websites, uses computer security, and pays attention to what he’s clicking on? Then, for the most part, Cookies are not dangerous for you.
If you’re someone who’s reckless and goes through the whole internet without much protection, then Web browser cookies are dangerous for you.
Let me explain. It’s true that Cookies do not collect your personal information like your name, address, or anything like that.
However, they also store your passwords. And they might be encrypted, but what if someone steals your Cookies?
That’s called Cookie Theft. If someone gets your Cookies, he will be able to log in to every one of your accounts very easily.
And by having access to your accounts, he can then get access to your personal information and even your banking information.
People who steal your browsing information to sell it and stuff like that.
Cookies may or may not be dangerous for your privacy and safety depending on your browsing habits.
Here are the basic steps to take for privacy protection:
- Disable/Clear Cookies Regularly
- Use a VPN
- Use security programs
- Use your head
Disable/Clear Cookies Regularly
Obviously, completely disabling Cookies is a very effective method to get rid of the privacy issues that Cookies bring.
However, it also makes web navigation a bit more tedious as you will repeatedly have to insert your login credentials.
You can find the option of disabling/clearing cookies on the advanced settings of most browsers.
Other than that, you may also want to use 3rd party programs which selectively clear cookies.
Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) doesn’t help against Cookie theft. But, it still offers complete anonymity by changing your IP address and encrypting network traffic.
This can make it harder for people to figure out your personal information by looking at your Cookies.
And even if it didn’t, you would still have the benefits that a VPN offers. In fact, with an effective VPN, even your ISP and your Government will be unable to spy on your browsing activities.
As for which VPN to choose, Tunnel Bear is an effective, cheap VPN. In case that you don’t want to pay, Tunnel Bear still offers 500 megabytes of data for free every month.
Use Security Programs
People often use malicious programs such as spyware to perform cookie theft. You can easily prevent yourself from getting infected by using a security configuration.
The most cost-effective security configuration is using an Antivirus and an Anti-Malware at the same time.
It’s a fact that we shouldn’t use more than two security programs at once, but that only goes for using two security programs of the same kind.
Which means that we shouldn’t use two Antivirus programs or two Anti-Malware ones at once. Having one Antivirus and one Anti-Malware is completely fine.
As for which ones to choose, the default Windows Defender and MalwareFox should be enough. This combination provides traditional antivirus protection plus real-time antimalware protection. However, you may consider replacing Windows Defender with a paid Antivirus as you might need it depending on your browsing habits.
Use Your Head
If you’re just going to chase after cyber criminals, scammers, and malware, then no amount of security will protect your privacy.
You’ve got to always be aware of what you’re doing. Be wary of suspicious looking links, ads, popups, or anything like that.