The Cookie Conundrum: Examining the Dual Nature of Cookies

Authors: 

Vicki Ha
Lina Hdeib
Farah Al-Shaar
Kori Inkpen

Author Addresses: 

Faculty of Computer Science
Dalhousie University
6050 University Ave.
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
B3H 4R2

{vha,lhdeib,alshaar,inkpen}@cs.dal.ca

Abstract: 

Proper cookie management methods have long been the source of frustration to consumers and researchers alike. This is due to the fact that cookies have a dualism in the way that they can be both beneficial and malicious, unlike other malware which are intrinsically malicious. Because of this duality, cookie management requires a subjective component unlike managing other malware. This in turn requires awareness and control on the part of the user in order to subjectively manage cookies. In this paper, we show the social and technical considerations required because of this duality, and the consequences which result from these considerations. We will also show, through examining the results of focus group sessions, that an increase in awareness is the best partial solution to the privacy problems associated with cookies.

Tech Report Number: 
CS-2005-18
Report Date: 
October 12, 2005
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