Good Cookie / Bad Cookie / Truly Evil Cookies

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How a Well-Mannered Cookie Behaves:

1) You visit a web site (say, http://saturn.com ) to shop for a car, and while there you click on links for 4-door sedans and then another to see what a particular model looks like in a nice deep dark blue.

a) While you are on their web site, they dropped a cookie in the temporary items folder of your browser, that stored some brief notes about what you looked at during your visit.

2) The following week, you go back to the home page http://saturn.com – and, lo and behold! – the exact car you ‘custom-built’ is what is on the huge banner graphic across the top of the screen… Wow!

a) When you revisited the site, their home page provided the code for several different versions of that banner graphic – and your browser noticed that their cookie was already present, so used information combined from both the live site and instructions built into the cookie to decide which version to present to your eyes. At no time was the cookie sent ‘up’ to the web site.

How an Ill-Mannered Cookie Behaves:

1) You visit a web site (say, http://saturn.com ) to shop for a car, and while there you click on links for 4-door sedans and then another to see what a particular model looks like in a nice deep dark blue.

a) While you are on their web site, they dropped a cookie in the temporary items folder of your browser, that had some brief notes about what you looked at during your visit.

2) The following week, you go back to the home page http://saturn.com – and, lo and behold! – the exact car you ‘custom-built’ is what is on the huge banner graphic across the top of the screen… Wow!

a) When you revisited the site, your browser noticed that their cookie was already present, and when requested, sent that cookie ‘up’ to the web site.

b) Their web server collects and analyzes the cookie and makes a decision about what to present to you on the web page. They also keep a running log of information collected to be sold to unscrupulous data-mining vendors. That can include any passwords you saved on their web site and any of the technical information listed at these sites:

http://www.mybrowserinfo.com/detail.asp

http://www.cyscape.com/showbrow.asp

http://browserspy.dk/browser.php

http://www.dtic.mil/test/

http://panopticlick.eff.org/

http://www.internetfrog.com/mypc/browserinfo/

A less-simplified discussion/reference on cookies that are not oatmeal-raisin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie

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