Cookies aren’t something you bake in the oven for the holidays. They are little files that keep information on your Internet browsing history. They also can be used for some cookie-savvy sites to collect information on you – primarily the sites you visit.
Cookies can be good. Sites you visit can store information unique for you so you don’t have to enter a password each time to “enter” a membership zone (think AccountingWeb and Amazon). If you have personalized settings that “pop” up when you go to a certain web site, you can be sure that you have cookies at play.
Cookies also help advertising companies keep lists of the Internet sites you visit. It’s their way of collecting demographic data on you so they can see what “type” of person is attracted to a particular site.
If you want to be “cookie free,” you have options. You might want to launch a cookie manager by downloading free software. You could also delete all cookies from your hard drive by initiating a search for “cookies.” However, you might lose important cookies you want! Or, you can simply change your browser settings to alert you to incoming cookies. Be warned, you could be annoyed at how many times you are prompted. Cookies are everywhere.
Finally, if you want to browse the Internet anonymously, visit Anonymizer.com, a web site that comes between you and the site you are visiting. It’s like stealth surfing!