How Safe Are "Cookies"?

When you view a page in your web browser, some servers give you more than you asked for—quietly, without your knowledge, they record information about you and your actions in a hidden file called a "cookie." In more formal terms, these data stores are called client-side persistent data, and they offer a simple way for a web server to track your actions. There are dozens of legitimate uses for cookies: Commercial web sites use them to keep track of items as you add them to your online shopping basket; the New York Times web site stores your username and password so you can log in automatically; still other sites deliver pages tailored to your interests, based on information you've entered in a web-based form.

The first ...

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