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SECURITY PROBLEMS AND NON-PROBLEMS ON THE WEB

© 1999 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Occasionally the bad guys on the Web can pose some danger to the security of the files on your computer. More often, concern is unnecessary. Read on for two examples.

Internet Explorer Bug

Lack of security arises through loopholes in your browser software. According to PC Week, there is a bug in Internet Explorer 4.0. This bug allows hackers to access a user's hard drive files. Worse, the bug allows hackers to run code on a user's computer.

This is a potentially disastrous bug. All IE 4.0 users should use IE 3.0 or Netscape 4.0 until Microsoft releases the software patch. If you prefer to live dangerously, use IE 4.0 and be sure to avoid any URL line address which includes "mk:".

Cookies From Strangers?

Cookies on the World Wide Web aren't chocolate chip. You get a cookie when a Web page sends a small data file to your computer. The Web site software later reads its cookie to identify you in some way.

Amazon.com uses cookies to keep track of customers and shopping carts. The New York Times site uses a cookie to store your password, but only after requesting permission. Ad banners use cookies to track the number of viewers for each banner at a site, along with the number of people who click on that banner.

So cookies are useful to Web marketers and harmless to you. A cookie contains only the information placed in it by the Web page software. And that information can be read only by the placing page.

~ Virginia Lawrence is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. She can be reached at virginia@cognitext.com or at her Web site, http://www.cognitext.com.

 

 

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