You probably know what a cookie is by now. Nowadays, almost every website you visit will plead with you to let them leave a cookie in your browser. But have you heard of a super cookie?
For those who don’t know, a cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored by the browser on a user’s computer. Websites use those cookies to record information about the user and about his or her interaction with the website. This includes information they’ve entered before (such as their username, password, or credit card information), items they’ve added in a shopping cart, whether they’ve clicked on certain buttons or links, or which pages they’ve visited in the past.
Super cookies are also used to track users’ activities, albeit in a much more cunning manner. For starters, they are not downloaded or stored on your computer. Instead, they are injected by your Internet Service Provider as Unique Identifier Headers, or UIDH, between your device and the server that your computer is connected to. A UIDH simply describes a piece of information that makes your internet connection unique.
Consequently, there is very little a user can do about them; unlike cookies, which are stored locally on your computer and can be erased while clearing the browsing history, supercookies are here to stay. Checking ‘do not track’ in browser preferences doesn’t work either, nor does browsing in private mode.
Ad-blocking software won’t help you too, because their work happens after a request leaves your device. Furthermore, cookies are typically tied to a single website; UIDH can be revealed to any website and contains a potentially vast amount of information on a user’s habits and history.
What Can You Do?
To avoid catching super cookies, your best bet is to only visit HTTPS-enabled websites. The other thing you can do is to use a virtual private network (VPN) to mask your traffic. Those are the only two ways.
While you have no control over which websites use HTTPS, a VPN can be installed and used very easily.
What Is a VPN and Where Can I Get One?
A VPN, or a virtual private network, is a global network of servers whose main function is to allow users to route their traffic through those servers. This is done for a number of reason, including increased anonymity and circumventing geo restrictions. VPNs also encrypt your data, making it impossible for the ISP to apply tracking headers.
There are many VPNs out there and it can be pretty hard to choose. But the one we recommend is ExpressVPN, simply because its server network reaches every corner of the globe, boasts military-grade encryption, and performs magnificently when it comes to speed.
Care to check out other options? Check out our favorites below.
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