Should Anti-Virus detect and remove cookie?

Some of you might ask that should Anti-Virus remove cookies or not? Firstly, let’s explain what is cookie and how it being use. Cookies are small peace of text file that could trace your activity on the web related to a website. It couldn’t run or execute or spy your system such as spyware. The information that cookie will collect would deal with the website that cookie belongs to it. Some programs also might use cookie and their usage of cookie also use similar to web browser. What cookies does is that when you visit a website or run a program that need communicate with internet and need to put some cookie, is to introduce you to the web. For example when you login to your email service such as Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and other email providers, when you key in your username and password and login to the page a cookie will place in your computer. Then once you login, cookie will remain in your PC and then when you navigate to your email’s page such as Inbox, Sent item, Contact…. It is cookie that let the email provider know that you are the user. In this scenario if cookie doesn’t exit, whenever you click on each page it would ask for password that is too troublesome and it is advantage of cookie that you login once and you could browse and once you sign out cookie will expire. In case of email, there are other protocols such as SSL that ensure that the person that key in correct username and password only could access information to assure security. However cookie play important role in login process. In one word, cookie is act like a temporary card for you. It help website that know you as a PC and give you services base on your interest. For example you could customize some websites , for example change the color of website or change the font without login in and next time when you visit website it will remain, that is cookies job that keep them. You also probably seen that in your email, you could choose to save username and when you logout, your username will remain, that is also cookie. Cookies are also a good help for advertisement companies. In some websites, when you click on their links or search something, they will have a system that gives you advertisement base on your activity. For example, if you search for Word Processing or Analyze data, it might show advertisement of Microsoft Office product. If you search for check email, it might give you Windows Live Hotmail as advertisement. It usually located in the advertisement part of the webpage. In case of cookie, there might be some privacy concerns, because they could collect information about webpage that you visit and also they could use to identify you to the website. For example in case of advertisement, it will collect information that you search and send them to website and website automatically generate advertisement base on keywords and then will sent it back to you and to know which content sent to who, it is by using cookie. For some people it might be privacy concern. The question here is that should Anti-Virus or Anti-Spyware product have function to detect and remove cookies? Cookies could not execute and run Malware or Spy on your Applications, so they are different from Spyware (that they could take screenshot of your system or record your password and that’s why Anti-Virus or Anti-Spyware will remove them). Some Anti-Spyware or Anti-Virus might show you result during scan that very dangerous cookie been detect and it could spy your system and remove them. The story is that once cookie get into system it will start doing its job and removing it is not a good idea if they violence privacy. Many of Anti-Virus product just detect cookie because customers keep pressing them that why don’t you detect cookie and in order to save their marketing, they add engine to detect and remove cookie. Some of them just detect cookies to show that their product are great and users when they see something been removed, then they trust the product and think it work well. Microsoft Anti-Malware products won’t do such useless thing to gain trust of users. The policy of Microsoft Anti-Malware and Anti-Spyware engines is to remove what is necessary to remove and dangerous, not just remove something to trust customers. Because you could control your privacy, using your browser’s privacy setting. Microsoft will NOT let bad cookies get into your PC in first place rather than remove them. In internet explorer, you could go to Internet Option and in Privacy tab ,manage your privacy as image below shown:

 

  

One good test is that you could set to block all cookies and then try to login to your email and you will see that you couldn’t do that. The reason is that you need cookie to be able to login to your online email accounts (such as Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL….). Also, if you want to remove all the cookies you could do that from Internet Option in General tab, under delete as shown in picture below:

 

 

Therefore, it is good idea to set setting to block cookie from first place that is what Internet Explorer will do as default , rather than just delete them to show that Anti-Virus is work only and deleting something that whether you delete or not won’t make different.

 

I suggest having a look at following website to learn more about cookie:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/resources/cookie-whatis.aspx

 

 

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