(also spyware cookie)
Tracking cookie definition
Tracking cookies are small text files that track users’ online activity and preferences and keep records of their data, like the sites they visit, the links they open, and the searches they perform. The main usage of these cookies is to gather data that will help marketers in targeted advertising and web analytics. However, they significantly help hackers to access user information and enter their devices. Tracking cookies can create a detailed profile of users’ preferences, which third parties receive and can then sell. Additionally, hackers can utilize tracking cookies to spy on your keystrokes and steal users’ login credentials, such as usernames and passwords.
Preventing tracking cookies
- Don’t accept cookies from every website. To ensure tracking cookies don’t affect your safety, you should only accept those necessary, or if you want to accept all cookies, check whether the website is trustworthy.
- Drop out of tracking programs. Some websites that have tracking programs allow you to drop out of them so tracking cookies can’t affect your network security. The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) can help you learn how to drop out of a tracking program.
- Install a cookie cleaner or blocker. By cleaning or blocking cookies, you can be sure that hackers won’t be able to access your sensitive data easily. Programs like CCleaner, uBlock Origin, and Ghostery can assist you as software programs for cleaning cookies.
- Manage your browser settings. Most browsers automatically clear cookies as soon as you close the website, which decreases the risk of spyware.