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Someone Stole My Cookies!

It is the third Friday of the month and that means paychecks are due. I get online with my home computer just before going to the office. I read my news online. WOW! There is a scare. Hackers are stealing cookies.

Mar 22, 2004

By Greg Richburg
Netricks, Inc.

It is the third Friday of the month and that means paychecks are due. I get online with my home computer just before going to the office. I read my news online. WOW! There is a scare. Hackers are stealing cookies. I understand that fear. I log into my account at my local bank. I am confident; I all my cookies everyday.

Network success is dependent on security. Today more than ever, users are open to attacks and viruses on their computers. Cookies have been a security discussion in the web world for several years. And still, there is a significant ambiguity with regards to what cookies are and what they do.

In my previous article in the March 2004 edition of Business Street I touched briefly on Spyware and Adware. Since then, I have cleansed several networks here in the Valley and trained many employees on pop-up prevention and computer health. Cookies are a small part of this large picture called technical proficiency.

WHAT IS A COOKIE?

A cookie is a collection of information that a web site puts on your hard disk so that it can remember something about you at a later time. More technically, it is information for future use that is stored by the server on the client side of a client/server communication.

Typically, a cookie records your preferences when using a particular site. For the most part, Web page servers create cookies as a mechanism to allow servers to store their custom information about the user on the user's own computer.

Information such as login name, password, phone number, address, browser type, and ISP are captured in cookies and upon the users next visit to the site, these bits of information are called upon for “user convenience.” The web site fields are automatically populated and the site is adjusted for enhanced web experience.

Have you ever gone to a website and entered some kind of personal information, then on another day, returned to that site and the fields were already populated with your information? Cookies hard at work.

BAD COOKIES?

Cookies are text files. They cannot obtain information. Yet applications and programs can, and they can use cookies to relay information between computers and servers.

Unless you enter your sensitive information into a web based applet of some sort, you have nothing to fear. If you enter your credit card info, license number, username and password into any web based form, then you are at risk.

Discussions about cookies have been in the news more than a few times. And the idea that hackers can use viruses to steal cookies is not new. But what you as a user should learn really fast is just that. It does happen. Learn smart computing techniques.

• Computer risks are increasing daily.
• Cookies that store your sensitive information can be d.
• Never tell your computer to remember the password.
• Your browser can alert you before accepting cookies.

Another Rule for the road:

If your network engineer cannot integrate cookie handling into your network security, if your network engineer cannot get rid of your pop-ups, cannot keep you safe from hackers, cannot keep your computers clean of viruses… Maybe you have the wrong network engineer.

All past articles written by Greg Richburg are available at http://www.netricks.com/news. Please address article suggestions to: info@netricks.com.

Greg Richburg a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno, CA. Visit Netricks at http://www.netricks.com.

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