JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a question that you likely get asked multiple times a day while using the internet: Will you accept the cookies for the website?
More than likely you’ve clicked “accept” just to make the popup go away. Every time you go to a website, you leave a cookie. Go to Amazon.com, leave a cookie. Go to Walmart.com, leave a cookie.
And these types of cookies are not as harmless as they sound.
“Cookies are tools that websites use to track your behavior, your activity, your trends, primarily to make your web experience more convenient,” explained Chris Freedman with OnDefend Cyber Security.
Shortly after searching for an item on the internet, you’ve likely noticed an advertisement for that very item popup -- whether it be on a social media platform or another website.
That’s one thing cookies do, Freedman said.
“It remembers your preferences, it remembers your fill-out information on forms such as your shipping information or financial information,” Freedman said.
Simply put, it makes the user experience as easy as possible.
So, what’s the issue with clicking accept?
“This data is resold for things like telemarketing, junk mail, and so it’s used across your entire user experience. And that’s a privacy issue.” Freedman said.
“There’s also cyber security issues as well,” he added. “Because this information is being stored on your device. If your device is ever taken over by a criminal, that information can be used against you by accessing platforms that you use for shopping or banking.”
Remember, you do not have to accept cookies.
“In fact, we suggest you don’t,” Freedman said.
The cyber security expert also recommends clearing cookies on your phone or computer, which clears up space for storage.
IPhones use Safari as their default browser. To clear cookies, go to settings > Safari > and tap “clear history and website data.”
Androids use Google Chrome as the default browser. To clear cookies, tap the three vertically aligned dots at the top right > history > and tap “clear browsing data.”
Just remember when you do that, you’re going to clear all your saved passwords and will have to re-enter them.
After you’ve done that, if you don’t want your iPhone to store cookies at all, go to settings > Safari > block all cookies.
To block cookies in an Android phone go to Chrome, tap the three vertically aligned dots on the top right of the screen > more > settings > site settings > then tap the “cookies” switch to turn off.
Keep in mind, doing this could prohibit you from using certain websites because in the world of technology. It just depends what matters more to you.
“Privacy and convenience are natural enemies,” Freedman said.
If you decide to block all cookies but cannot get onto a website without accepting them, you can go back and turn off the feature, do what you need to, and then turn it back on.