Well, you would be aware about cookie and if you are unaware than we will discuss about it in later part, but other than normal cookie there also exist a Super Cookie. Before we understand Super Cookie and its impact, let’s understand about the normal cookies first.
What is Cookie?
A cookie is the small piece of text file which contains specific information regarding the website you visit. It is also called as web cookies, browser cookies or simply a cookie. For ex . Cookies store the information about your login and avoid users to login again.
Suppose you are shopping at any E-commerce website and you added few products to cart and you closed. Now after sometime if you come over there again than you can find the existing products in cart (which you have added early), which means cookie store the information about your shopping cart. Cookies can be used for much more extended functionality. Cookies help in providing the customized and relevant web content to users for better user experience.
Since the third-party cookie tracks your browsing activity and report to the marketing companies about your browsing activity and based on that activity the ads are being delivered to you. However you can delete cookies by clearing the browser history or you can manually disable cookies.
What is Super Cookie? What information it has about the user?
Super cookie is also referred as the permacookies. Super Cookie is untrashable, which means the cookies which cannot be deleted normally unlike normal cookies. Hence Super cookies are not stored physically on your computer. Super Cookies is not a cookie at all.
Super Cookies are injected/inserted in the http headers of the certain website requested by the user. Suppose you visited the website which use Super cookie. You visited and left that website. Now after few days or after a particular interval of time you again visited the same site. Now here, what will happen is; the entire browsing activity between the first and the second visit would be reported to the desired website. So the whole session is being now known by the third-party website.
Generally Super cookie is used by porn, advertising, marketing websites and most probably the ISP. Super cookie is inserted using X-UIDH header. Verizon the popular US Wireless service provider uses Super cookies. The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains that how Verizon injecting Super cookies and how it works.
For instance, suppose an ad network assigned you a cookie with the unique value “cookie1,” and Verizon assigned you the X-UIDH header “old_uid.” When Verizon changes your X-UIDH header to a new value, say “new_uid,” the ad network can connect “new_uid” and “old_uid” to the same cookie value “cookie1” and see that they all three values represent the same person. Similarly, if you subsequently clear cookies, the ad network will assign a new cookie value “cookie2.” Since your X-UIDH value is the same (say, “new_uid”) before and after clearing cookies, the ad network can connect “cookie1” and “cookie2” to the same X-UIDH value “new_uid.” The back-and-forth bootstrapping of identity makes it impossible to truly clear your tracking history while the X-UIDH header is enabled.
Hence, this leads to privacy breach. Super cookies can include much more information about the user than normal cookies. Even in private browsing mode also you cannot opt out from super cookies.
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How to protect yourself from Super Cookies?
It is extremely difficult to detect the Super cookie but using certain ways you can protect yourself from Super Cookies.
- Always use VPN
- Use BetterPrivacy-Signed plugin in Firefox to remove or manage uncommon kind of plugin
- Always use encrypted connection (SSL)
But overall VPN is the best to use for avoid being tracked by the Super cookies. Unaware about VPN; Read What is VPN? and also the Top Myths of VPN you should stop believing now. Is this an end to Online Privacy?
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