<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/cookie.jpg”>Internet cookies. You’ve heard of them, you’ve been warned about them, and you’ve grown to fear what they are telling the world about your Internet surfing habits. How can such an innocent sounding thing be so evil? Everyone loves cookies, right? Well when it comes to your Internet browser, cookies can be a good thing, but they can also be a bad thing too.
We’ve covered cookies in some detail here at MakeUseOf. Guy previously covered the elusive 2o7.net cookie that plagues so many people, and Grant described the positive ways that websites make use of cookie technology. We’ve also showed you a few ways to opt-out of certain tracking cookies.
If it all feels just a little bit too confusing, you’re not alone. How are you supposed to know the difference between a “good cookie” or a “bad cookie”? What if you don’t even know where to start to even find these things? The truth is, most people can’t recognize a good cookie from a bad one. That is why software like MAXA Cookie Manager is so valuable.
Setting Up MAXA Cookie Manager
The MAXA Cookie Manager removes the confusion from the entire process of protecting yourself from dangerous tracking cookies. The software comes pre-configured with the majority of the “good” cookies out there, like those that retain your account-specific information for IM chats, your Facebook sessions, and a whole list of other online services where you really want the website to remember you.
When you first download and run the MAXA Cookie Manager, you’ll have the option to check off the common online services you use the most, like certain IM services and social networks.
MAXA has the ability to monitor and protect you from browser specific cookies, covering many different browsers like Firefox, IE, Opera, Chrome, Safari and even Flock. Keep in mind that the free version will only detect non-browser specific cookies, but it won’t delete them. For that you need the Pro Version.
Once you’ve gone through the quick install Wizard, the software is ready to start protecting you. It’ll always run in the taskbar and it will alert you when any new, malicious cookies arrive while you’re surfing the web. When you open the Cookie Manager, it’ll show you a dashboard of all of your current cookies across all browsers. It shows you the name of the site that installed the cookie, when it was created and last accessed, when it expires, and what browser it’s connected with.
You can click on the “Export List” button to export your entire cookie list as an HTML output file. This is a good way to send your list off to an IT friend if you want someone to take a closer look at them to determine whether there are any “bad” ones there that the Cookie Manager might have overlooked.
Click on the “Online Privacy Test” button, and MAXA will perform a full-scale test regarding what private information cookies can currently access on your system. It will display that information to you so that you can gauge whether or not you’re satisfied with your current privacy settings.
If you don’t recognize a particular cookie, or you just want to know more about what it does, select one from the list and then click on the “Cookie treatment” button, and select “View Details”.
This pops up an informational box that provides a lot more detail about the originator of the cookie and more specifics about what it does and where the file itself is stored. Remember, just because Cookie Manager has identified a cookie as a “web bug” doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means that the behaviors of that cookie meet MAXA’s criteria of a “web bug”. It may be perfectly safe, in which case you can set MAXA to consider specific cookies as safe.
Anytime the software recognizes that you have cookies on your system that are specifically made for tracking you, you’ll see the following warning pop-up.
You can choose to delete all of them instantly, without further investigation, or you can choose to manually search through the list and delete them yourself, one at a time. In the Pro Version, you can also configure the software to automatically block specific cookies as well. For the free version, you’ll need to have an active part in deleting these tracking cookies.
Don’t forget to click on the “Settings” button to explore the options available with this software. For example, you can set up the software to keep checking all of your cookie “areas” for new, dangerous cookies at a set time interval. You can also configure the software to launch with Windows, and configure alert sounds for new cookies that come up.
Not many people have the time or the know-how to manually search through every spot on their computer where tracking cookies could reside. These cookies could potentially give away information about yourself that you consider private. MAXA Cookie Manager helps to simplify the process so that you can have greater control over what information is being tracked and what isn’t.
So give MAXA a try and see if it sets your mind at ease while you’re surfing the web. Did it catch any dangerous ones on your system? Share your insights and thoughts about the software in the comments area below.