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Step 4: Protect Your Privacy

Mozilla 1.x and Firefox allows you to make strict rules for cookies, allowing you to ensure that your privacy is not violated.

  1. What are cookies, any why do everyone want to give me one?

1. What are cookies, any why do everyone want to give me one?

Cookies are small files used by websites to store information used while visiting and also to track your long-term movements on the net. A cookie is basically a file with strict limitations, it can only store a small piece of information and only the site who originally set the cookie is allowed to retrieve it later.

Cookies were originally intended to help creators of web services like web-shops keep track of orders and other relevant information during a purchase. Today cookies are mostly used by large media corporations to keep track of your movements and behavior on the web. Look at the cookie on the left. server-?? (where ?? is the country code, no, dk, uk..) is a evil global cooperation who will try to store cookies from all parts of the world until you eventually have added them all to your deny-list. The cookies this and other powerful corporations set when you visit a site where they provide advertisement back-end services serve no purpose beyond tracking your movements and purchasing behavior in order to show you more relevant messages.

Mozilla 1.x and Firefox has the ability to protect you against those who want to violate your privacy by storing long-term cookies with unnecessary information about you in cookies. You can ask your browser only to use and allow session cookies. This means websites can use cookies for honest purposes during a visit. All information set is cleared when you leave the site.

They also have the option of disallowing all cookies. This setting is good if you have a separate profile or browser dedicated to general entertainment surfing, but will quickly limit access to a few sites who really have no apparent reason for setting them at all.

I personally prefer using the ask-when-needed setting where you are asked to choose between "Allow, Allow for session and Deny" every time a website wants to store a cookie.

There is a box you can click to store the settings for a particular website permanent.

Some bloated commercial sites may ask you to set up to 10 different cookies originating from 10 different domains, typically and similar. Let's say you occasionally need that site to set one cookie. If you use the ask option you can simply look at the Cookie box and make it remember that it should deny all those advertisement domains, but allow for session from the domain belonging to the site you are visiting.

1.1. Configuring cookie access in Mozilla 1.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu, then Privacy & Security -> Cookies to get the dialog where you can cookie settings in Mozilla 1.x.

I personally recommend using the settings Allow cookies based on privacy settings and Ask for each cookie. Like when denying advertisement images, you will find that the major advertisement corporations will be on your deny-cookie-list after just a few weeks of surfing.

1.2. Configuring cookie access in Mozilla Firefox 9.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu, then Privacy -> Cookies.

It is a good idea to turn on Enable cookies, turn on for the originating Web site only and Ask for each cookie.

Use Accept for current session only instead of Accept cookies normally if you never want to be bothered or asked about cookies. There is no real reason why web-sites should store information about you in a small file stored by your browser permanently.

Next: Step 5: Using Bookmarks for Searches and Quick Access

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