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The importance of clearing or disabling cookies

“In order to have a positive and safe experience in the digital world, we need to understand the ever-increasing diversity of digital threats and equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge and skills”. This is the view of Wilna Meiring of the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA).

In a recent article, she shares information that will assist people to stay abreast of the risks and to anticipate and safeguard them against some of the threats.

One of the areas that she discusses is the disabling of cookies. That is cookies on the web and not what you have with your tea. Everyone has seen the message “This website stores cookies on your computer” while browsing the internet. So what are cookies?

An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on a user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. In this way, the user’s browser activity is recorded.

“While cookies cannot infect computers with viruses or other malware, the danger of cookies is that cyber attackers can hijack cookies and, therefore, browsing sessions, and track individuals’ browsing histories”, according to Meiring.

It is therefore important to take care to ensure that if you are using a public computer/device, you delete cookies when you have finished browsing so that subsequent users will not have access to your data (sent to websites) when they use the browser.

To read more about tips to stay safe on the internet, click here to read Meiring’s article.

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