What’s tougher than a cookie? A supercookie of course! Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard the term before – even though it’s something most of us encounter on a daily basis, it’s just that we don’t know it. The Wall Street Journal has recently reported that a large number of web services such as Hulu and MSN have been discovered to be using supercookies.In case you didn’t know, cookies are tiny files that are stored on a user’s computer so that when they visit a website, so that it knows whether they’ve been there before, whether they’ve been logged in or not (so they don’t have to log in again) and to remember user preferences. While cookies are usually harmless, supercookies on the other hand are so much more.
Supercookies are said to be able to steal a user’s entire browser history, which can provide highly valuable details about a them i.e. their health or financial status. Talk about intrusion of privacy! What’s worse is that supercookies are harder to detect and remove than regular cookies, requiring separate programs or plugins just to get rid of them, since they won’t be deleted by conventional methods.
It wasn’t mentioned what these companies were using the stolen data for, but that doesn’t make it any less appalling although some of them have reported that they weren’t even aware that there were supercookies at use on their websites (though we won’t know for sure).