Have you ever been in the middle of a virus or?
malware scan on your PC and amazed at the increasing number of “threats”
detected? Surely your laptop doesn’t have 220 Trojans, right?
Assuming you use a little discretion while
surfing the web and downloading files, this is highly unlikely. What’s
however, it is likely that you have visited websites that have been followed
your activity in one way or another.
To call tracking cookies malicious or
dangerous can be a lot, but it is up to the user to determine whether they
something worth regularly scanning for and removing. With the introduction of
Do Not Track, many browsers allow you to block most tracking cookies. Still,
some slip through.
Let’s take a closer look at tracking in this article
cookies and discuss what they are, how they are used and how to delete them
What are tracking cookies?
To understand tracking cookies, let’s first
discuss what cookies are. A cookie is a small text file that is used to
user-specific data. For example, when you log into a website and check the box
checkbox to keep yourself signed in for future visits, your browser will save
a cookie on your hard drive that allows the website to communicate later to your
In addition to saving visitors’ preferences,
to show targeted ads to users that can increase their conversion rates.
However, tracking cookies often go a step further.
Some tracking cookies travel with you around the internet and pass your personal information and data to a website when you visit it again. This is often used for retargeting advertising purposes.
For example, if a website shows ads served by Google, your activity on that website may transfer with you to an entirely different website that also displays ads from Google.
Are tracking cookies bad?
This mainly depends on what your definition of is
is “bad”. If you are someone who is warned during a virus by tracking cookies
scan, keep in mind that these files are not malicious and do no harm to
However, over a long period of time, tracking
cookies from major ad networks can get so big and full of
your personal information that they may be considered invasive. A few companies
that use tracking cookies in this way include AddThis, Facebook, Google,
Quantserve and Twitter.
With aggressive tracking cookies, this
businesses can search your location, device information, purchase history,
questions and much more. Sometimes you don’t even know this information is
is collected. However, some countries, such as the UK, have passed laws that:
require websites to inform users that their data is being collected through
In summary, tracking cookies will
pc? No. Can tracking cookies invade your privacy in ways you may?
consider it unethical? Yes.
How can I avoid tracking cookies?
Thanks to the Do Not Track legislation, you can stop many tracking cookies before they occur. Every major browser supports this functionality via privacy settings – we even have a guide on Enable Do Not Track in Microsoft Edge†
Google Chrome users can go to the Settings page, click Advancedat the bottom of the page,
and enable the “Send a “Don’t”
Track request with your browsing traffic” option (below Privacy and Security†
Many individual advertisers and websites too
provide Do Not Track functionality. Twitter is an example, where to go to the Personalization and data settings will
show a variety of tracking-based preferences.
As for advertisers, the NAI Consumer Opt-Out page can help you identify and opt out of advertisers that use tracking cookies in your browser. It supports a massive opt-out feature that really simplifies the process.
Otherwise you can clear your browser’s cookies at regular intervals or simply delete tracking cookies during routine health scans. This is thoughtful enough to prevent cookies from growing so large that they could be considered invasive and dangerous.
Finally, the way you handle cookies is a:
matter of your own preference and discretion. If you think it’s harmless to
websites to track your personal information and show you content related to your
surfing behaviour, pay no attention to it. Otherwise, the steps above may help you
to ensure that your privacy is respected. Either way, your PC is safe!