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Yang 1 Dayshia C. Yang CST 300L-01 20 December 2013 Got Milk?

The Truth about Cookies Imagine you are an eight year old living in the year 2000. You barely started to find out what a computer was and how it worked. Soon your elementary school had one for only good students to use and all of a sudden you now have one in your house. Now, using a computer was second nature to you. You were able to easily search the web for whatever peaked your interest at the time. However, unknown to you, there was a sense of responsibility attached to having a computer. Your computer starts running slower, you start panicking only to be told that you should invest in an anti-virus program. Regardless of those warnings, by the time you were in high school your family had gone through ten computers. Now imagine that all this was because of cookies. The types of cookies you encounter on the web are not the same as the ones that you can dip in milk. Cookies are small data files in web browsers that are used to remember who you are in order for you to not be treated as a new user when visiting the same pages again (Jesdanun, 2005). Even though cookies are small data files, they take up a lot of space within the hard-drives. Cookies are everywhere and they are not as sweet as people may think. Most people who live in today's technology- dominated society are on the web at all hours of the day. Instead of just sitting at home with a desktop computer, people now are able to walk around flashing their latest internet accessible devices, such as: laptops, the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab, iPads etc. The current generation of young adults grew up knowing how to browse the web easily. Given this

Yang 2 dynamic, almost every gadget that people use now has internet accessibility and needs cookies to keep running, more specifically tracking everything that is viewed. Herein lies the problem, cookies are for the most part- necessary in your internet browsing experience. However, the problem with cookies is their ability to be downloaded without user permission and to access personal information from your previous browsing history. To some, this is a breach of security and personal privacy, however cookies are needed in almost every technological device. In 1994, Lou Montulli was hired at Mosaic Communications Corporations, what is currently Netscape (Montulli 2013). It was then, when cookies were introduced in the web. Montulli commented on the advancing condition of cookies in technology today stating, I'm largely to blame for several innovations on the web including cookies (Montulli 2013). A professor at Stanford Law School who studied the ways software code and public policy interact states that before cookies, the Web was essentially private. After cookies, the Web becomes a space of capable extraordinary monitoring (Schwartz 2001). Montulli had created cookies for the reason that there needed to be the uses of memory on a website such as shopping carts for shopping, personalized content, logging in, and many other interactive features require memory (Montulli 2013). As the millennial generation grew with technological advancements, cookies have developed along with technology as well. It started off as just the Netscape browser and it did become very popular within the year, since websites started to use the cookies for different purposes that were even more concerning (Montulli 2013). Since people gained access to the Web, the speed and ease of that accessibility has increased tremendously,

Yang 3 proportionally increasing the demand for tracking that access through the use of cookies. The biggest changes have been to how users can view and control their cookies (Montulli 2013). Cookies now can update online shopping carts, ask to save passwords through bank account log-ins, social media sites, etc. The way cookies start working is by the user going to a certain website. Once on that website, cookies have recorded that you visited it. The more often you are on a website, the more it will better accommodate to your likings. If surfing on website, Facebook for example, there will be advertisements with products you have viewed before popping up on the sidebars. A big ad company such as DoubleClick started using third party cookies to track a browser uniquely across all the sites that used DoubleClick to serve ads (Montulli 2013). Online music radios, such as Pandora, also have cookies. Pandora, specifically, asks for a zip code and there will be advertisements with places or events within that zip code. Whether viewing websites from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone, cookies are there whether we have knowledge of them or not. There is the option available in browsers to delete all cookies or allow specific ones. In the Firefox browser, there is the option to use custom settings for history, which allows web users to check off boxes under the Privacy tab to accept third-part cookie from all or only visited websites. It also has the option to keep until the browser is closed, expired, or every time it is asked. To some, cookies are more annoying than harmful, even though [others] believe that cookies are a security risk, an invasion of privacy, and dangerous to the Internet (Harding 2001). As a user of Google Chrome since it was first released, up until November 2013, there issues with the browser on my laptop. Whenever the browser

Yang 4 wanted to be in use, the message displayed would say Not connected to internet. Check connection. Initially, there was the assumption that it did have to do with Internet connection. Attempts such as trying to reconnect and restarting laptop had no effect because the same issue kept repeating itself. As a frequent user of computers, the knowledge of running two anti-virus programs when trying to reconnect to the internet was waiting to be used. Scanning the programs resulted in claim that there were at least thirty threats every single time there was a scan. Many anti-spyware programs identify cookies as threats because Web sites can use them to target ads based on your surfing habits (Jesdanun, 2005). After that experience, and with a little digging, it was uncovered that the problem was, in fact, due to cookies. It was a specific cookie called Conduit that was a harm to the laptop. I was not able to access the web, my anti-virus always popped up, so the only option was to delete the browser, as well as deleting the Conduit folder within my hard-drive. My laptop was fine when Chrome was uninstalled completely, until I tried to give it another chance; the same thing happened again, and it caught onto my roommates laptop as well. Conduit acted as a tracking cookie where it created a folder within the hard-drive but claims to be a cookie file. Many cookies go away when you exit the browser, but others, known as persistent cookies, keep track of you across many days, even weeks or years, of surfing (Jesdanun 2005). With further research of finding the problem of why I was facing the issue with Conduit. I found out that it was also a browser hijacker. According to Microsofts Support Engineer, Rajesh Govind, Search Conduit is a malware program that modifies registry entries and attempts to steal vital information such as credit card data by redirecting searches to Search.conduit.com and The Search

Yang 5 Conduit malicious browser hijacker secretly installs on your computer without your consent (Govind 2013). No one would like to have their information stolen, especially when it comes to financially related things. If someone were to have their credit card data stolen, that would affect their credit, and there can even be cases leading to fraudulence. Just like the Conduit cookie, there are more than one types of cookies floating around: first party cookies are set by the website being visited; third party cookies are set by different organizations from the owner of the website and it has the ability to track the browsing feed through different sites; session cookies are temporary because they are used during the web page use and then deleted when browser is closed; persistent cookies are saved on the computer for a limited time; last there are flash cookies which are used with videos and games (BBC 2013). People who frequently uses the web, most likely has encountered the browsers asking Would you like to save password? or Would you like to stay signed in? Those are simple cookies that allow the action to happen. It best works on personal computers and devices. Especially on a public computer or when using public Wi-Fi, never answer yes to any questions relating to saving data or information within websites. Given all the information about cookies and how they are necessary, it is okay for cookies to invade the privacy of web browsers? DoubleClick was sued for unlawfully obtaining and selling consumers private information and assumption of having employed computer tracking technology, known as cookie and their new privacy policy states that the company plans to use the information collected by cookies to build a database profiling consumers (Harding 2001). There are two cases where Google was to pay fines due to lawsuits involving cookies. In December 2012, Google agreed to pay twenty-two

Yang 6 and a half million dollars to settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission because it had misrepresented the Safari browser by having placed tracking cookies (Information Management Journal 2012). In November of 2013, Google had a fine of seventeen million dollars to settle claims within thirty-six states and the District of Columbia due to the installation of tracking cookies on Safari users computers without permission to assist DoubleClick (Rosenblatt 2013). Safari is a product of Apple, who claims to be the most secured, yet Google was able to install cookies in Apples browser. Whether a device is brand name or not and can be as big as a desktop or as small as a smartphone, it is whatever has access to the Web that gets overfilled with cookies. Cookies seem to not be as much of bother until things start popping up, browsers not working, repetition of advertisements, and other issues. In order to control cookies, there can be options set up. It is best to clear cookies, as well as, history and caches after using a web browser. If not, since there are persistent cookies, maybe at least clean up the browser every week. It is best to be prepared and not run into issues like the Conduit cookies, which then can be a frustrating occurrence. If all else fails, it is time to uninstall the infected browser and download a new web browser. Uninstalling and reinstalling the same browser is not recommended because there is the possibility of it happening again. On the other hand, to some people cookies are not harmful at all. It is very advantageous that browsers get to know their users because of recently and most visited sites. There is easy access to the Internet, especially if it is from your own personal device. Cookies help save password and information wanted so it can be a much faster process.

Yang 7 Being able to surf the web and not have information collected all the time is a good idea because sometimes information is not necessary to be provided. Personally, I feel like cookies are unnecessary if not controlled well. While it is nice to have the option to have our passwords saved for us, it is not worth losing information whether that is personal information or not. My feelings, of course, stem from my personal experience with cookies. Because of the Conduit hijacker cookie, I was forced to delete my google chrome browser even though I enjoyed the features that chrome had, however, I didnt want to ruin my computers chance of running smoothly. Just like critics have stated, cookies can be considered an invasion of privacy and it can lead to identity theft if used incorrectly. Its almost impossible to tell everyone to not use the internet or web browsing perks because they are convenient in our busy lives. However, I believe users should be more informed about the negative aspects of cookies and how cookies can hurt their browsing experience. Since requesting the boycott of cookies is a stretch, I recommend people to change their privacy settings to limit the amount of cookies that are able to access your information. The logic of this is simple. In order to maintain your privacy and not worry about being the victim of a lawsuit like DoubleClick, the easiest, way is to develop your understanding of cookies and then monitor the access cookies have on your electronic devices. As explained earlier, go into your browser and look at your privacy settings. Within the privacy settings there is the option to limit cookies or even delete all backed up information. I suggest all computer and technology lovers take this step to prevent viruses to appear on your devices. You can also be proactive in writing down all your

Yang 8 log-in information for all your favorite sites instead of depending on the websites to remember your information for you. This will work to insure the safety of your information and it will prevent malicious cookies from entering your hard-drive. Despite the insistence that cookies are necessary and the fact that removal of cookies could cause less smooth internet browsing, I still believe the healthy state of your personal technological devices is more important than that small step of convenience. With this position, my main concern is the users. Being a user who enjoys technology myself, it bothers me when my technological devices arent working the way I want, or thought they should. In thinking about my position, I had my fellow users in mind. By getting rid of the unnecessary cookies that are found on devices, we are saving the tech devices that we worked hard to obtain. It is clear that cookies are not leaving the technological sphere soon. As the creator of cookies inferred, he wasnt expecting cookies to get this far out of hand. Since cookies are so unregulated, it is clear that at least until regulations on cookies and the use of cookies happens- cookies will continue to effect the web and the browsing experience of people. The small data files that are cookies will continue to be a topic of discussion. Their necessity, their true purpose and how they are currently and how they will be used in technology will let us know the direction that technology is headed in the future. Makes me wonder will the cookies be sweeter in the future or will they end up being dunked in milk?

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Works Cited BBC (2013). About Cookies. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/privacy/cookies/about/types-of-cookies.html

Govind, Rajesh (2013). Security, Privacy, and Accounts. Retrieved from http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-security/virustoolbar-named-search-conduit-attached-to/592cefab-3ced-48ed-adda-a9822d49aa58

Harding, W. L. (2001). COOKIES AND WEB BUGS: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER. Information Systems Management, 18(3), 17. Retrieved from web.ebscohost.com.library2.csumb.edu:2048/ehost/detail?sid=61115049-cc79-4bc39f3c33f5aeadafc4%40sessionmgr4001&vid=1&hid=4106&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3Qtb Gl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=mth&AN=4549415

Information Management Journal (2012). Cookies cost Google record-breaking $22.5m fine. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.library2.csumb.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A321579851&v= 2.1&u=csumb_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w

Jesdanun, A. (2005, Aug 14). What are cookies, and are they dangerous? Ocala Star Banner. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/390366798?accountid=10355

Microsoft (2013). Description of Cookies. Retrieved from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/260971

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Montulli, Lou (2013). The reasoning behind Web Cookies. Retrieved from http://www.montulli-blog.com/2013/05/the-reasoning-behind-web-cookies.html

Rosenblatt, Seth (2013, Nov 18). Google settles with states in Safari-tracking case for $17M. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57612873-93/google-settles-with-states-in-safaritracking-case-for-$17m/

Schwartz, John (2001, September 4). Giving Web A Memory Cost Its Users Privacy. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/04/business/giving-web-a-memorycost-its-users-privacy.html