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Gephardt: To Accept Or Not To Accept Internet Cookies; What’s The Risk?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It seems like every website you open, a banner pops up asking if you’re okay that it uses cookies to “enhance your internet experience.”

KSL Investigates what we risk if you click “yes.”

“There are a lot of websites that won’t let you access them if you don’t have a cookie – if you don’t allow them to set a cookie,” said cybersecurity expert Earl Foote owner of Nexus IT Consultants.

Cookies are software in your internet browser that track your computer’s identity, and they are not always necessarily bad. The information these cookies collect study your online habits and that information is sold to advertisers. If you are not worried about privacy, it can be like having a personal shopper.

“So, the cookies say, ‘Well, I know that Matt…he’s got this affinity for yachts, right?” Foote said in a hypothetical example. “And so anywhere Matt goes on any device on the internet, we’re (cookies) going to show Matt some information about yachts.”

The real security issues come from the personal information cookies also store. They make it so you will not need to re-enter your login every time you open one of your frequently used websites.

“Passwords, that can give a hacker immediate access into a bank account,” explained Foote.

Foote said he never stores passwords or credit card information on any website, ever. As for any other information stored in cookies: 

“Generally, I would recommend on a regular basis, like once a month, go in there (browser history) and clear out all your cookies,” Foote said.

Now for some people, it can be a major hassle because you are probably going to clear out that username and other info you wanted to save for a particular website. But the alternative is some websites you have not visited in several years is still storing your personal or financial information that could be vulnerable to hackers.

KSL 5 TV Live