Friday, December 30, 2005

in the year 2037

I just delved into the morass of my Internet security (or lack thereof) and discovered four sites gave me cookies set to expire in 2037 or 2038:

google
hotmail
sitemeter
imdb

I knew hotmail was evil, but the imdb surprised me. As for sitemeter, that was a link I followed from someone else's blog, not a cookie I willingly set while creating my own stat counter.

Rumors of Google trying to infiltrate everything possible about my life (and everyone else while they're at it) inspired the closer look. Granted, I should clean up after myself on a regular basis and not have to worry about such things. Still, a cookie that lives longer than Christ--that seems a bit ridiculous.

12 Comments:

Blogger mal said...

privacy? we have privacy? as much annoyance as it creastes, I still dump my cookies weekly, expire my pages daily and think paranoia in general about the web

5:05 AM  
Blogger James said...

Egad those are some long lived cookies! Does that mean my hard drive will last that long? Great line about cookies living longer than Christ, too. Gave me a good morning chuckle, but I'm with the above commenter, I dump and delete regularly, especially after visiting any of those traitorious left wing blogs. I don't want to get caught, you know?

6:14 AM  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

www.ccleaner.com

Download this baby (make sure you tell it what cookies you want, like for banking or saved passwords) and say goodbye to that shit.

6:42 AM  
Blogger sara said...

MAY PEACE BE UPON YOUR SOUL, HEART, MIND, AND BODY...AMEN...

LOVE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIEEEES!
;)

7:08 AM  
Blogger James said...

Yikes. I was kidding when I mentioned visiting "traitorious left wing blogs" but firedoglake has a post up with links to articles indicating that both the NSA and the White House websites are installing cookies on vistors' computers as well.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...

i couldn't help but think of possible SNL skits when i saw the thing on the news about the cookies.

definately download that shit daniel mentioned. do you have pest patrol and adaware too? you should put them on your puter too.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks Daniel, but that won't work on Safari. All I really need to do is click "reset Safari" and everything is gone. I should follow Mallory's lead and err on the side of caution.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Balloon Pirate said...

You run with the Mac crowd? Woohoo! I knew there was a reason I liked you!

...other than, you know...the obvious.

Yeharr

9:19 PM  
Blogger speed_demon said...

OMG, what have we done to ourselves?

By using their free gmail, search engine and now blogger. What have we gotten ourselves into. What has the Open Source society gotten into?

I never knew how to check the cookies expiration date. And now I check and it's real!

I guess, there's nothing free is there?

BTW, does this only apply to "save-the-password" feature? What if you didn't save your password, would it still show 2037?

Happy blogging!

11:18 PM  
Blogger Stormmaster said...

Cookies by themselves are not bad, a company using cookies is not bad either: normally they are used to store information about your visit to a certain site, like your user id or session id - you wouldn't want to share your shopping cart with somebody else's. Some sites (like blogger) use it to "remember you" if you are a returning visitor.
But the important thing is that every site only get's the cookies that were put there by the same site - Google, NSA, White House and co can only get back their own cookies.

Cookies can be used to track your progress on a site - but only as long as you stay or return to the same site.
There are some ad companies that produce "tracking cookies" that create a profile about where you go on the web - these are bad cookies - but they are only possible because these companies publish ads on many different sites.

Cookies with the expiration date set to 2038 are maybe just cookies that shouldn't expire at all (the "remember me" function wouldn't make much sense, if you had to enter your password every other week/month). The "2038" probably is a cookie whose timestamp was set by a unix/linux derivative whose time runs out on July 8, 2038.

A good explanation about the cookie mechanism can be found on www.howstuffworks.com/cookie.htm.

Generally it might be a good idea to set your browser to not accept cookies by default and always ask, or only to allow session cookies.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Stormmaster,
Good to hear your voice of reason. You're absolutely right that there's nothing evil about any company who uses cookies (jokes about hotmail aside). I'm encouraging their use by subscribing to statcounter, which wouldn't function very well if it couldn't use cookies. I willingly enable my browser to accept cookies from certain sites, and I love being lazy and not having to retype the same 7-9 character usernames and passwords every day.

Mostly I was just reacting to the 2037 date. I wonder how "forever" came to be defined as 32/33 years in the cookie industry.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Speed_Demon,
Yes, Google sets cookies on your site whether or not you choose "save password."

Stormmaster,
Oops, you already answered my question about 2038.

8:26 AM  

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