State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Enterprise Technology Services

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Cyber Awareness Bulletin

The following cyber awareness bulletin was issued by the State of Alaska. The information may or may not be applicable to the general public and accordingly, the State does not warrant its use for any specific purposes.

Cookies

A cookie is a small information file that a Web site puts on your hard drive in order to remember something about you later. Typically, a cookie keeps track your preferences when using a site.  By using cookies, an on-line store, like Amazon, can keep track of what items you have placed in your shopping cart as you surf the site.

If you'd like, you can view the cookies that have been placed on your hard drive. The location of the cookies however, generally depends on your browser. Internet Explorer stores each cookie as a separate file under a Windows subdirectory, whereas Opera stores them in a single cookies.dat file.

In Internet Explorer, you can delete cookies by clicking on "Tools," scrolling down to "Internet Options," and clicking "Delete Cookies."

An Internet site will generally use one of the two following types of cookies:

Session cookies - Session cookies are stored on you hard drive only during the time that you are at a particular site.  They are automatically deleted when you terminate your session.  A Web site will use session cookies to assist with navigation by remembering what pages a user has already visited, or whether or not a user has logged-in to the site. 

Persistent cookies - Persistent cookies store on your personal preferences on your computer for an extended period of time.  Most browsers will allow you to configure how long you would like to keep persistent cookies.  If a malicious hacker were to gain access to your computer, they may be able to gather personal information about you from stored persistent cookies.

It may be good idea to consider adjusting your privacy and security settings to block or limit cookies in your web browser.  In Internet Explorer, you can get to both of these settings by clicking on "Tools," and selecting "Internet Options." The "Privacy" and "Security" tabs should appear at the top of the options menu. 

For more information on cookies, visit the cookie summary, prepared by Microsoft.