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Chapter 13. Security and You > Cookies, Hold the Milk

Cookies, Hold the Milk

Cookies may be good with milk, but computer cookies are not always so good for your privacy. A cookie in computer terms is a small bit of data that's sent to your computer whenever you visit a Web site. Cookies are used to identify you. For example, if you log onto a site such as Amazon.com and you're greeted with a cheery, "Hi, Joe! Here are our recommendations for you," that's made possible because your computer has provided data to that site about you. This can be very convenient because it can save you from having to reenter information about yourself, such as your billing address, each time you visit a site or place an order. However, it also means that information about you is being pulled from your hard drive whenever you're online.

note

The term "cookie" comes from the original name for this feature, fortune cookie. This name was a result of a program for UNIX computers that sent out a unique message every time it ran, just as you get a unique message every time you open a fortune cookie.



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