Cookies and Their Impact Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2543 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 14  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Education - Computers

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
When a user initially connects to the DoubleClick server to select a banner, the server assigns the browser a cookie with a specific identification number.

When the user has been assigned this number, the server will recognize him any time he connects to any Web site that subscribes to the DoubleClick Network. Over a period of time, DoubleClick develops a list of which member sites the user has visited and revisited, using this information to create a personal profile of the user's tastes and interests.

The DoubleClick server then uses this profile to handpick advertising banners based on the user's individual preferences. This also allows the company to create audience profiles and rating the success of the advertisements.

While names and e-mail addresses are not part of the information that DoubleClick tracks, other information that the browser leaves behind is enough to allow it to identify the user. Therefore, many critics say that DoubleClick's use of cookies violates Internet security.

While the majority of cookies are harmless efforts to improve Web browsing, many can be intrusions on Internet privacy. There are many features and methods that allow users to refuse cookies. Woodruff suggests that users allow transient cookies, which are only active during a particular browsing session and refuse persistent cookies, which store user identification information over an extended period.

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The impact of cookies on Internet security implications has grown along with the size of the Internet. Many websites use cookies to implement access control schemes of different types.

For example, a site that requires a user name and password may pass a cookie back to the user's browser the first time the user logs in. After the initial session, the site may allow the user access to restricted pages if his browser can produce a valid cookie.

Term Paper on Cookies and Their Impact on Assignment

This process can be advantageous to the site but may also make it vulnerable to exploitation by hackers or other third parties. A hacker could use a packet sniffer to intercept the cookie as it passes from the browser to the server, using it to obtain free access to the site.

Due to the fact that browsers use the domain name system to determine what cookies belong to a server, browsers can be tricked into sending cookies to a rogue server simply by temporarily subverting the domain name server. If the cookie is persistent, it can also be stolen from the user's cookie database file.

Cookies can also impact Internet security when they are used as session IDs in a transaction processing system to preserve state throughout a multi-part transaction. For example, some systems use cookies in a system that allows employees access to corporate information. If the cookie is intercepted, a hacker could use it to make unauthorized transactions.

For this reason, systems that use cookies for authentication and state-preservation must take measures to protect the system from cookie interception (Lowe). Woodruff advises that system developers ensure that cookies contain as little private information as possible. In addition, cookies should contain data that allows the system to verify that the authentication of the person using it.

By incorporating these security measures, system developers can reduce the negative impact of cookies on Internet security and limit the damage that an intercepted cookie can do.

Cookies have had a positive impact on the Internet, as they allow both users and websites a variety of additional convenient features. However, the use of cookies has stretched beyond adding convenience.

Today, advertisers can use cookies to keep track and record the sites individuals are using and exactly what they are doing on the Web. This can have a positive impact on the Web's capabilities or a negative impact on Internet security, depending on what information is used and how it is used.

These companies can often correlate this information with the name and contact information of the user, which goes against the user's security. Cookies are an example of how technical design and individual website decisions have a direct impact on Internet security.

The majority of cookies used on the Internet are harmless, identifying users by placing information, not obtaining it. This can actually be beneficial to the user's Web experience.

Conclusion

Basically, cookies only present a problem to users if they are submitting their personal information to websites that they do not know or trust. Most reputable sites do not use cookies for information like credit card numbers or telephone numbers.

In rare cases, webmasters, who are usually amateurs, store credit card or other sensitive data directly in cookies. This poses a definite threat to Internet security, as the information is in a position in which it could be intercepted, stolen, or used for other purposes.

In general, cookies are very valuable. Sometimes they may let others know more about what you've been doing than you desire. According to Woodruff, it is in the best interest of users to find a good cookie management product and install it on their computer. Then they can selectively accept or decline cookies from individual sites, increasing their Internet security.

References

Andrews, W. (1996, June 3). Sites dip into cookies to track user info. WebWeek, 2(7), pp. 17, 20.

Canadian Standards Association (1995). Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information. Ontario: Canadian Standards Association.

Cole, Morgan (August 14, 2002). Cookies, Spam and Internet Privacy. IT Security, Townsend and Taphouse.

Davidson, Alan. Morris, John. Courtney, Robert (1997). Strangers in a Strange Land: Public Interest Advocacy and Internet Standards.

Descy, Don (1999). "The Internet and Education: Some Lessons on Privacy and Pitfalls." Educational Technology 37, no. 3: 48-52.

Gunderson, O., Hunt, M., Lewis, D., Marshall, T., and Nabhan, M. (1996). Commercialization of the World Wide Web: The role of cookies. Project 2000, Manuscripts.

Lowe, Richard. The Fear Of Cookies. Retrieved November 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://internet-tips.net/Security/cookies_fear.htm

Narayan, S. (1996, October 21). Cookies give users automatic log-in option. WebWeek, pp. 51-52.

Netscape Communications Corporation.

Understanding security and privacy. Retrieved November, 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://home.netscape.com/security/basics/index.html

Philips, Bruce (1995). "Naked on the Information Highway." Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science 20, no. 1: 29-48.

Sterne, J. (1997). What makes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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