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Chapter 19. The Savvy Surfer: More Inter... > Restricting Your Cookie Diet: Intern... - Pg. 230

The Savvy Surfer: More Internet Explorer Fun 230 If a site can store a file on my computer, what's to stop them from sending me a virus or some other nasty electronic bug? That's not possible with cookies because Internet Explorer will only allow the site to store the data in a particular location and in a plain text format that can do no harm to your machine. Okay, but isn't it dangerous to have user names and passwords and stuff like that sitting around in text files? Good point, but it's not dangerous because only the site that created the cookie can read it. No other site can access anybody else's cookie, so your data can't get spread around. So cookies are totally benign creatures and we have nothing to worry about? Actually, that's not quite true. To understand why, you have to understand about the different cookie types: · Temporary cookie--This type of cookie lives just as long as you have Internet Explorer running. When you shut down the program, all the temporary cookies are given the heave-ho. Jargon Jar The term cookie is based on the old programming term magic cookie , which the Jargon File (the definitive dictionary of geekspeak; see defines as "something passed between routines or pro- grams that enables the receiver to perform some operation." It's this idea of passing data from one thing to another (in this case, from a page to your computer) that inspired the original cookie creators. · Persistent cookie--This type of cookie remains on your hard disk even after you exit Internet Explorer. The cookie's length of stay depends on how it's set up, but it can be anything from a few seconds to a few years. · First-party cookie--This is a cookie that's set by the Web site that you're viewing. · Third-party cookie--This is a cookie that's set by a site other than the one you're viewing. Most third-party cookies are created and stored by advertisers who have placed an ad on the site you're viewing. Given these cookie flavors, there are two types of cookie problems that civil libertarians and other privacy advocates fret about: · A site might store personally identifiable information --your name, e-mail address, home ad- dress, phone number, and so on--in a persistent first- or third-party cookie and then use that information in some way (such as filling in a form) without your consent.