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No More Cookies For Us (But We Can Still Have The Yummy Kind, Phew!)

Lot's of details below and a Step-by-Step guide!

Privacy and Cookies

Cyber Security, it's a hot topic here at Tech Wellness, and those cookies, they sound so yummy. However, when it comes navigating the Internet, they are anything but delicious. 

Here's the skinny on Cookies 

Cookies are little pieces of digital code or files created by websites you visit that store YOUR information. This information includes your browsing details, site preferences, and your profile. Websites have the ability to collect even more concerning details including your address and sometimes your location if you have “location” enabled on your device; and yes, even your name, if you give it to the site.  

Cookies Come in Two Flavors 

There are two kinds of cookies that affect your privacy and security: First, those set by the site you’re visiting—and in that case, it makes sense that they might keep your name, address, and credit card details for when you return, repurchase or browse again. Then there are third-party cookies: These come from advertisers, research companies, or other companies or networks that may have an image or ads embedded on the page. The “cookie” or digital code is dropped into your web browser by the site you’re visiting AND by the third-party advertisers and ad networks. 

How Cookies Work 

The cookie basically identifies you and it leaves a digital trail of what you’re looking for or what you’re doing on the site. That makes it easier for publishers to show you an ad and hopefully they get you to buy something and in the future, the interested party will recognize you when you return. 

Who Wants Some New Shoes?

Here’s an example: say you’re searching “Cute shoes on sale”... Suddenly, every online ad you see is for those cute shoes or maybe even cuter shoes!  Some sites that you casually visit may deposit over 50 different cookies in your browser every time you visit!! It’s no coincidence.

 A Platter of Cookies Means . . . 

The final result of all this cookie compiling results into something called a rich profile. Regardless of whether a website gathers the information in one visit or purchase or via several tied together using persistent cookies, you've entrusted the website operator private. For example, once a website operator knows that you (you being your mailing address, e-mail address, etc.) like shoes, the website can compile you with a list of other users who have purchased shoes online (or requested shoe content, posted to fashion message boards, etc.).  That list has value for a third party looking to sell, for example, fashion videos, so you can imagine why the website may want to sell your browsing information. In our “cute shoe” example, the end result of the user receiving a piece of mail or e-mail may seem like a petty annoyance or maybe even a benefit to some. But the site could just as easily provide the list to any number of unsavory sites or to just a large number of sites that could result in a ton of unwanted marketing or ads. The bottom line is:  Did you want to share your shopping/browsing information only with the store?  Well, then DO NOT allow 3rd party cookies! 

Hotel sites, Airline sites and your travel plans and Cookies 

Have you ever visited an airline site, put in your itinerary, noted the price, left the site and came back later to find the price of your trip had gone UP?  Well, sometimes it could be that prices have been adjusted according to timing and flight bookings, BUT, it could be that the site knows who you are, the flights you've been considering AND that you're back and that you may just go ahead and purchase that ticket, even though the price has increased.  To eliminate the possibility of this scenario altogether:  Try browsing without cookies or removing cookies once you leave the site and then, starting the next browsing experience with "fresh cookies" being placed. 

Safe Browsing, the Internet of Things and Cookies 

Safe browsing is browsing that empowers you to release information you choose to release. The first step is how you set up your browser. To begin, I really like Firefox. It gives you the ability to block every cookie and the ability to see every cookie if you allow them. All browsers allow you to select “Do not allow cookies” under Settings and then Privacy. Try it in your browser. First, clear all existing cookies. Then, decide if you want to disallow all cookies or just block third-party cookies. 

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE: Disable Cookies for Shopping Enable for Buying

I am going through step by step on how to change the privacy settings on Firefox. 

Step 1: Open your Firefox browser 

Step 2: Go to preferences on the Firefox drop-down tab, on the top left corner of your screen 

Step 3: Click on the Privacy Tab 

Step 4: Click under Tracking: on the “manage Do Not Track settings” Check the pop-up Box that says Do Not Track 

Step 5: Click on the drop-down menu below history and select; “Use custom settings for history.” 

Step 6: Below the drop down there are several boxes: Click/Check the 3rd box down; “Remember search and form history” Click/Check the 4th box down; “UNCHECK the Accept Cookies Box. NOTE:  SOME SITES MAY NOT ALLOW YOU TO VISIT WITHOUT PLACING COOKIES-- SO:  if you must allow cookies to shop (the website you're visiting will tell you) here's the strategy: GO AHEAD AND checkbox “Accept Cookies from sites” Then...

Step 7: Prior to Booking, Go BACK TO Preferences 

Step 8:  Click on the Show Cookies box then Click on Remove All and your Cookie History will start over. 

Step 9:  On the drop-down menu and select; “Never” For more cyber-security please note 3rd Party cookies are not necessary; they're mainly used for advertising 

Step 10: on the next drop-down menu, "Keep until", select; “I close Firefox” 

Step 11:  Click/Check the 5th box down; “Clear history when Firefox closes.” This my friends will keep you and your loved ones safe from those "follow you everywhere" cookies and quite possibly keep Airlines and Hotels from increasing quoted rates when you leave their sites and then return. Also, remember to also clear the “cache,”which stores images, scripts and other parts of websites you visit to speed up your browsing experience. That’s usually in a different part of Settings in your browser. It’s in Advanced in Firefox and I clear my cache once a week. 

Hey, can't I just use Private Browsing or incognito mode?  Well, not so much...

Privacy mode does erase your history from you or someone who may be using your computer, but it does NOT stop sites themselves from knowing you've visited.  Most people aren't aware that Private Browsing isn't so private Here are the Top Search Engines to Protect Online Privacy Finally, remember this: privacy and security online can’t be guaranteed, so let’s be careful out there. On that note, get some Creepblockers--an easy and cheap fix to protect your internet privacy. You're already reading how to protect your searches, so why not protect your face?! 

 Xo August Brice


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