By Katrell Plunkett, ICS 184 student

Cookies might sound like a delicious and sweet treat however, when talking about your computer we are referring to the pieces of data collected from your web session that get stored in your browser. Every time you revisit the website, the browser then sends the cookie back to the website with all the stored data from the earlier visit.

For this reason, cookies can be helpful and can appear to be sweet making browsing a breeze, pulling up your usernames and passwords and even showing you ads for things you previously searched for. On the flip side these cookies can be stored for years causing your browser to move slower and these targeted ads can start to become annoying.

However, these cookies travel across the internet bouncing from server to server and can easily be intercepted falling into the hands of a hacker. While cookies are mostly used by ad services, they also store information from banking sites as well as other personal information you may have entered on shopping sites like your address or other contact details. Therefore, cyber security experts recommend clearing your cookies from your browser frequently and especially whenentering personal and sensitive information to websites.

These are the basic steps to clearing your cookies.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome will automatically delete cookies after the browser is closed if the “Keep local data only until I quit my browser” selection is made. Specific site exceptions can also be made from this menu.

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click Show advanced settings.
  4. In the “Privacy” section, click the Content settings button.
  5. In the “Cookies” section, Remove all at the bottom of the dialog.
  6. You can also choose to remove all cookies created during a specific time, using the Clear Browsing Data dialog.

Safari

  1. Choose Safari > Preferences, and then click Privacy.
  2. Click Details.
  3. Select one or more websites that stores cookies, and then click Remove or Remove All.
  4. Click Done.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click the Internet Explorer icon on the taskbar.
  2. Click the Tools button, point to Safety, and click Delete browsing history.
  3. Select the Cookies and website data check box, and then click Delete.

Delete all cookies

To delete all cookies stored on your computer:

  1. On the menu bar, click on the History menu, and select Clear Recent History.
  2. Set Time range to clear to Everything.
  3. Click on the arrow next to Details to expand the list of history items.
  4. Select Cookies and make sure that other items you want to keep are not selected.
  5. Click Clear Now to clear the cookies and close the Clear Recent History window.

Remember to practice internet safety and most importantly to protect your cookies by deleting them. While cookies can be used to your advantage they can also be used to the advantage of hackers leaving you wondering who stole the cookie from the cookie jar, and by the time you figure it out the damage could be done. Users should clear their cookies after every session and especially when exiting a session containing sensitive and important data.