Cookies: Delicious, yes. But computer cookies, not always. A cookie in computer terms is a file written to your computer by a website you have visited. Sometimes cookies can have a good purpose. Like storing information that can be used to speed up the next time you visit that website. But sometimes cookies are used to keep track of what websites you visit. So they sort of spy on you. Thus, when used that way they’re considered spying software, or spyware. Cookies are not the only type of spyware and not all cookies are spyware.
Now, you might have also heard about temporary Internet files, stored in your computer. What are they? when you visit a website, more often than not, there are graphics (pictures, drawings) and other files that your computer’s web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, are example of web browsers) must download and open for the website to display properly. The computer keeps some of those files in a local cache folder, the temporary Internet files folder, to be able to display the website faster the next time you visit it. In other words, instead of having to access and download those files from the Internet again the next time you visit a website, it simply accesses them from the computer’s storage. As a concept that’s good and useful, but it opens the door to your computer collecting the wrong types of files from the internet, thus infecting your computer – This is known as a drive-by-download infection.
The application of the above theory is immediate. It tells you that a sound action, if you suspect the possibility of an infection in your computer from having visited a malicious website, is to delete all cookies and temporary internet files. How do you do that? it depends on the browser you’re using. You can always search the help file for your browser, or ask an expert for specific instructions on how to do that in your particular browser.
Some antivirus products will inspect every file your computer accesses to display a website, and IF it can recognize it as malign, it can stop it from infecting your computer and alert you to the fact. Of course that is IF. Some products keep lists of known malicious websites to prevent you accidentally accessing one of them and thus infecting your computer.
Well, now you know more about what these computer security products do and why, and what can you do about it as well.