×
Search TQA Weekly
×
Log into your TQA Weekly

Cookies!

Learn about Cookies, The Types and Consequences of Blocking Them

Steve Smith, host of your TQA Weekly, explains the difference between first and third party cookies, how to safely deactivate specific types of cookies, and how to remain private, and what would happen if we turn off all cookies.

Episode #2-28 released on April 8, 2012

Cookies! I'll explain the difference between first party and third party cookies. I'll explain what cookies were meant to do, and how to banish third party cookies permanently from your computer, and some of the unintended consequences of doing so!

First, what is the difference between first and third party cookies? Source. A first party cookie is from the web-site your are currently on. Uses for cookies on a web-site your currently on include customization information, session, tracking, etc... Third party cookies are typically used to track users, or allow users to use off site web-site like sharing with social networks.

Now, cookies were meant to allow web-site designers, such as myself, to customize web-sites to specific users, and create a maintainable environment which the user can be happy in, and this was brought on by two important details. When the internet started becoming popular we were all using, for the most part, dial-up connections with dynamic IPs, which made IP locking unreliable technology. The other, it was the only reliable way to pass information from one page, to the next, to the next, and so forth.

Now, about this time, we already had advertising solutions, and for the most part, the use of URL reference headers or customized URLs made it possible to track click sources. This had a very interesting side-effect. Cookies, reference cookies to be more exact, started being created on the fly, and for no apparent good reason, started allowing third party web-sites to see how you were navigating the internet. This is not an invention of Google or any other advertising platform, but rather an accident, which was not reliable enough to use until we all started using fixed IP addresses. The nice thing about dynamic IP address assignments, is that you really are more anonymous every single time you connect, like if you were reborn. Now, with time, session IDs have been attached in the form of cookies making this type of connection less likely to make you anonymous, so what do you do now?

There is a very neat way of preserving virtually all services of the internet from a web-site, while preventing other companies from tracking you. In virtually all control panels, in all browsers that count, even on mobile platforms, you can just turn off the right for third party cookies to install any kind of cookie in your device, whether it be a cellphone, smart phone, tablet, desktop, or laptop. Turning off third party cookies allows you to stay logged in within web-sites your currently in, while not being tracked by other web-sites. This will disable virtually any service added to a web-site, but then again, if you don't want to be tracked, this is what you want, right?

Want to know what happens if you block all cookies? The internet ceases to function, completely. Only web-sites that do not require you to login, and / or have been programmed to function with or without cookies will function. Logging into a web-site will be next to impossible, and using such things as e-mail, social networking, banks, online stores will not work. Is there another way? In short, or in long, the answer is currently NO. Even if web developers use sessions to avoid the use of cookies, we need cookies to store information that allow us to make secure sessions, and preserve these sessions. Using an online store is virtually impossible at this point, since shopping carts online use cookies to store the products your interested in. And, even if cookies are required for the shopping cart, they may be required to keep your session information from disappearing. The cure for the cookie issue would also implicate a scary thought. In order to avoid cookies for most current uses, we'd have to lock on to your IP address, and if we are using a secure session, we need to preserve the decryption key on your computer, which either means using cookies or a unique decryption key, which would act as a web beacon, one way or another.

The internet would literally have to be thought out again, and web developers would have to be included in order to come up with a new suggestion that would become the new norm.

So, how does one remain really private online. I have two solutions, besides turning off third party cookies. Use incognito or private modes when available, and you really should use these when logging into sensitive accounts like banks. The other solution, use TOR, but don't use your credit card in the Aurora Browser, since one of the commonly used anti-fraud techniques is Geo-Location. Allowing your credit card company to track your location is a good thing, it allows them to prevent your credit card from being fraudulently used. You can use private or incognito modes for that, in standard browsers.

Next Week, I'll be explaining how to create a multiple column design using CSS, and explain important how to debug tricks you may not have known before that will prevent you from banging your hard against the wall while you try figuring out why your design is not working. If you want to add any input, tricks, tips, or ask any questions, so I can add them to that episode, e-mail me at ask@tqaweekly.com.

Remember to like, share and subscribe to TQA Weekly. For more information like our show notes, how to join our mailing list, get your own TQA Weekly branded gear and apparel, or for our Android Application, please visit tqaweekly.com. Stay safe and online, have a great day!

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions