Cookies?

Have you noticed how all those websites on the net are getting “smarter” all of a sudden? You know, like the way message boards remember your nickname, some sites remember your password so you won’t have to retype it every time, electronic malls remember what you last put in your virtual shopping cart etc’.
This is all because of cookies. Cookies are small files which a website can request your browser to create and then retrieve information from them. Websites can put your password or any other information in these files.
If you don’t want your co-workers or other people to sniff around and see where you’ve been visiting, what items you’ve been buying etc’, you should delete them when you don’t need them.
On Unix, your cookies would usually be stored somewhere in your home directory (usually /home/your-login, /usr/your-login or /usr/local/your-login if you’re a regular user and /root if you’re root, but anyone with write access to /etc/passwd can change that).
On Windows and Mac, cookies are stored on a sub-directory at your browser’s directory called cookies.

Note 1: you can tell your browser to ask you before accepting a cookie. Just play around with it’s preferences menu, you’ll find it (there are so many browsers out there so I can’t give a detailed explanation for every single one).
Note 2: if you’re browsing from a public computer, do not save any cookies, or other people will be able to snoop around and look at your cookies or even enter various websites with your passwords, your credit card number etc’.

A reader called Stone Cold Lyin Skunk has pointed out to me that the cookies.txt file may be found in the netscapeusersdefault directory. This happens when you register your user (Netscape let’s you have multiple users for the same program, each user with his own settings etc’) without giving it a username.
He also pointed out to me that some websites will require you to accept cookies in order to enter them.
Also, he recommended to beware of your browser’s history file (information on removing it can be found on the “Where Can I Learn More About Anonymity?” chapter), as well as your cache and your preferences.js files, because they may reveal your browsing habits (where have you been, etc’).

.chk files?

Stone Cold Lyin Skunk has pointed out that if you’re running Windows and you do a quick reboot (hold down shift while telling Windows to reset) Windows generates a file called FILE0001.chk, FILE0002.chk etc’ (usually found on c:). You will be amazed to see how much information you could find in these files! Delete them ASAP!

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