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  • Cookies and other site data

    Posted on Slowpoke47 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Linux – all distros Cookies and other site data

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      • #2311458
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        Running Mint Mate, which includes the Firefox web browser.  Being  increasingly concerned with privacy, at our house we long ago abandoned anything Google-related, including Chrome, Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube.  Of course, many sites, including this one, install data upon being opened.

        FF is set to clear this data on closing, and I often clear it manually.  My question is this- with cookies, etc planted, what if any information can be/is typically collected by sites which have planted them?  Do they have “Big Brother is watching you” capabilities when such data is planted on our machines?

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2311468
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        FF is set to clear this data on closing, and I often clear it manually. My question is this- with cookies, etc planted, what if any information can be/is typically collected by sites which have planted them? Do they have “Big Brother is watching you” capabilities when such data is planted on our machines?

        I believe you are referring to “tracking cookies”.

        I use the browser extension by EFF called “Privacy Badger” to block trackers, so those types of cookies that get on the system to begin with are minimized. https://www.eff.org/

        Deleting cookies should also help, but some are useful, so being selective might be a preferred approach.

        4 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2311490
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          We also use Privacy Badger.

          When deleting cookies manually, I leave in place those from trusted sites, but as for unfamiliar ones, I don’t know how to distinguish among helpful, harmless, and invasive.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2312296
          anonymous
          Guest

          I also tried Privacy Badger and it worked fine in FF but it got strange when installed in Edge. Lost my sound, couldn’t get Task Manager to open, Start wouldn’t display left or right click, somehow got Edge to open then uninstalled PB, and finally got all my “lost” and “couldn’t” to work. Using Win10 2004, am not trying to solve problem, just passing on info.

      • #2311485
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        @Slowpoke47, my preference is to (as JohnW suggested) use EFF’s Privacy Badger, which has been a great extension adversary in not only blocking tracking cookies, but also allowing the choice whether or not to allow certain cookies using the slider interface within the settings.
        (I use it on Mint Mate 19.3, Win7 and Win8.1)


        No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT- AE
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2311504
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        The recent versions of Firefox also have enhanced tracking protection enabled by default. Look in Options at Privacy & Security settings.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2311511
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for the responses- we have already adjusted the FF and PB settings but I’m still mostly guessing as to what to allow/ disallow.  As mentioned, I consider anything Google-related as toxic, and we immediately remove trackers, etc when we exit an online vendor’s site (e.g. Amazon, Ebay) but as for most others, I have little or no idea as to what vulnerabilities we have from them.

        My concern is about predators, and we certainly don’t want to leave the door open for them.  Once personal info gets into cyberspace, it can’t be re-privatized.

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2311520
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        We use DuckDuckGo for searches.  This link was included in last week’s email from them- https://spreadprivacy.com/duckduckgo-tracker-radar/

        Some of this is tech-oriented, but it does give an idea of what’s behind the curtain…

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2311523
        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Plus

        @Slowpoke47, every so often I’ll go into the cookies stored on my PC, using CCleaner’s Options –> Cookies function. I’ll review the cookies listed in each column (“Cookies on Computer” and “Cookies to Keep”), then move cookies around so that the Keep column contains only cookies for sites that I have actually registered for–everything else goes out the window. This is done by putting the cursor somewhere in the “on Computer’ column, then clicking Ctrl-A to select all those cookies, then right-clicking and finally selecting “Delete now” from the context menu. Poof!

        UPDATE: On re-reading your posts, I realize you’re now on Linux and not Windows. I don’t think CCleaner is available for Linux. You might be able to accomplish the same thing by using the Linux version of BleachBit, check it out.

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Cybertooth.
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2311567
        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        Hi there Slowpoke47-

        I’m thinking your question is more about surveillance and privacy issues than just removing tracking cookies.

        EFF has a thoughtful outline of issues, including how to assess your personal risks and steps you can take to mitigate them, in their section on Surveillance Self Defense.

        Educating ourselves is important, and you aren’t going to find the needed info in any corporate ‘privacy policy’.

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

        4 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2311635
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks, Elly, that’s exactly my concern.

          This forum has constituted the bulk of my cyber education, and sometimes I ask dumb or poorly phrased questions.  Privacy and security are at the top of my list when on line, as there are plenty of bad actors, large (e.g. Google) and small (lone wolf in his mother’s basement), attempting to profit at my expense.  The particulars in the ongoing legal actions against several of the Internet giants have led me to double down on security issues.

          Being more or less isolated from any knowledgeable local users, I post here for assistance.  I appreciate hearing from all who responded.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2311606
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Cookies contains text, not executable code. You can’t do anything with cookies except record details of the data sent between your computer and the web site in question. This allows your browsing to be tracked across the web.

        You need to prevent the use of cookies that track you across sites, e.g. doubleclick.net, google-analytics.com etc, if you want to limit cross site tracking.

        Limiting / deleting cookies does not prevent individual sites retaining information about you, e.g. delivery address, CC details etc.

        Ultimately, you are much more likely to lose valuable information from slack data protection measures of vendors (Equifax) than from having Google etc track your browsing history.

        cheers, Paul

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2314316
        Slowpoke47
        AskWoody Plus

        Chapter Two of this issue:

        Starting about a week or so ago, I get a fistful of cookies by default from dropbox.com and dropboxusercontent.com that seem to be associated with AskWoody.  These cookies are planted if one of the tabs set to appear on opening FF is AskWoody whether I open that specific site or not.  FF is set to block these cookies but some get in anyway.  I looked at the dropbox site and it’s nothing that I want or ever opened.

        Anyone else seeing these?

        Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2314338
          Paul T
          AskWoody MVP

          I get the Dropbox cookies as well so I assume there is a link to Dropbox in here somewhere.

          It’s only a few cookie so I wouldn’t be too concerned.

          cheers, Paul

      • #2314357
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        @Elly uses a dropbox signature gif, so that’s where the dropbox cookie is coming from in this thread. I have dropbox blocked via PB (slider) and only allow it when and if I need to use dropbox. YMMV


        No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT- AE
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2314409
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks for the explanation.  The only way I know to block cookies etc. is, in FF, Preferences>Privacy & Security>Manage Exceptions, where I can block specific sites by name.  I have done that for the four dropbox variations, and now get fewer, but I’m antsy about 3rd-party cookies in general.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2314361
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        If you really want your eyes opened (maybe not?) regarding tracking cookies, just install the browser add-on called “Disconnect”.

        Then use the “Visualize Page” view rather than the list view. It will show the site you are connected to plus all of the other sites making connections at the same time as a result of your visit to that site. It’s shocking how many server connections are actually made when you think you are just connecting to a single server.

        https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/disconnect/#&gid=1&pid=2

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2314419
        ScotchJohn
        AskWoody Plus

        I use Firefox ESR (78.5.0), and find this combination works for me in managing cookies:

        Cookie AutoDelete removes all non-protected cookies

        Cookie Quick Manager allows me to protect those cookies that I want to keep, those that identify my profile to a site (Remember Me)

        uBlock Origin allows me to block specific adverts and scripts, which has its own value on various sites that require log-in

        Dell E5570 Latitude, Intel Core i5 6440@2.60 GHz, 8.00 GB - Win 10 Pro

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2314430
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          The most current FF in Linux is v.83.  While we have always used ublock, the other apps you mention may be from older versions of FF.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2314425
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        Does this app allow for blocking sites?

        It automatically blocks the sites that are tracking you, but you can disable blocking if you wish. The best thing is that it shows you visually which 3rd party sites are being contacted.

        I’m not an expert on this add-on, as in I set it and forget it. Read up on it if it piques your interest. It is on the Firefox recommended list.

      • #2315028
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        it seems to me that not blocking 3rd party cookies is the same as leaving your doors unlocked

        This is not true. Cookies do not let others onto your machine.

        Use one of the cookie auto-delete plug-ins to clean up the trackers, or set your browser to delete all cookies when it closes, then close your browser regularly.

        cheers, Paul

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2315046
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          I’ve been saying “cookies” instead of typing out “…site data and cache” which is the phrase used on the FF Privacy and Security screen.  What sorts of site data support telemetry?

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

        • #2315062
          Slowpoke47
          AskWoody Plus

          We have FF set to delete site data and cookies on closing.  Also I clear unwanted site data etc. periodically during a browsing session.

          Linux Mint Mate 19.2

      • #2315067
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        Just cruised the page for Disconnect- tells me that it is included in Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere, both of which we use.

        I have never seen that info before. Can you please provide a link to the page where you saw that?

      • #2315069
        JohnW
        AskWoody Lounger

        EFF has a thoughtful outline of issues, including how to assess your personal risks and steps you can take to mitigate them, in their section on Surveillance Self Defense.

        Thanks for that link Elly!

        One article in particular “Why Metadata Matters” presents the issue of the importance of its use, and the lack of control most of us have over it in today’s world. https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/why-metadata-matters

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