firefox geek internet privacy security

the right way to block evil website cookies

Cookie settings screen in Firefox

I posted about this back in 2004 (whooosh, where did the time go right?), but IMHO the best way to block out any evil cookies from ad agencies, tracking sites, or whoever is putting cookies on your machine, is to use a whitelist.

With a whitelist you only allow a handful of sites to put a cookie in your browser. With a blacklist you block all the evil websites that put cookies on your machine. Problem is the last one might be handier, but it’s simply impossible to know all the websites out there that suck. So by only putting the good ones in, and making sure Firefox cleans up all cookies after you close the browser, you end up with a cookie jar with only the best ones in them. Just the way we like it.

So how do you do this in Firefox 3? It’s quite easy really, and it goes like this:

  1. Open the Options window from the Tools menu.
  2. Open the Privacy tab.
  3. Check the “Accept cookies from sites” and “Accept third-party cookies” in the Cookies panel.
  4. Set the “Keep until” dropdown option to “Until I close Firefox”. That way, all cookies will be erased when you close the last browser window.
  5. Click the Exceptions button. Enter the domain names of sites you trust putting cookies on your machine. Only those will be allowed from now on.

You’ll see that your whitelist will be quite limited. If you have a different and complex password for every site, using something like KeePass Password Safe makes login in to your favorite sites a lot easier, and even removed the need of adding not so frequently used sites in the whitelist at all.

This doesn’t protect you from a virus or trojan infection, but it does make it harder to track your online trail for any company that ever displayed a banner on a web page you have been viewing.

Surf safely!

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