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Why do cookies have my name in them, and do the sites I visit see that?

When I delete cookies on my computer I noticed my name is on them.
Do other websites I visit see my name on the cookies they place on my
computer? And how would I change my name for security and privacy
concerns if this is the case? For example, If I visit the IRS website,
I am not happy that they would have my name and know everything I
visited. I know I could visit through another website where my id would
be hidden, but that’s a pain in the neck. I would think when I first
register a new Microsoft Windows this is when my name gets listed onto
my internal cookies.

I can’t speak for what goes on inside a cookie – if you give your
name to a site, then that site could easily store that in a cookie so
that it can address you by name when you return.

But I don’t think that’s what you’re asking about.

I’ll bet that looking at cookies in Internet Explorer is what has you
concerned.

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In IE, click on Tools, then Internet Options, then the General tab, and in the “Browsing History” section click on Settings. Once there, click on View Files and you’ll get a window much like this:

Temporary Internet Files showing Cookies

(You may need to re-sort, or scroll the list to see cookies, as other temporary files are stored there as well.)

“… the file name is not part of what’s sent …”

As you can see, my cookies appear to include my name.

But also notice what you’re looking at: a listing of files. In fact, my name is included only on the filename that contains the cookie. When the browser picks up the cookie and sends it on to whatever site is appropriate to send it to, the file name is not part of what’s sent. Only the contents of the file containing the cookie is sent.

Where’d the name come from? That’s your Windows login name. I happen to login as as LeoN (a holdover from my days at Microsoft where my login name was also “leon”), so that’s the name that IE pre-pends to the cookie filename to identify it.

I’m actually not aware of a way to change it. You could create a new Windows login account, I suppose, and start over, but that seems rather extreme.

But as to the underlying concern: this is not something that the sites you visit ever see. It’s simply a part of Internet Explorer’s internal housekeeping. And in fact if you look at cookies stored by another browser, such as Firefox, you’ll find that they’re stored – and named – in a completely different way.

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2 comments on “Why do cookies have my name in them, and do the sites I visit see that?”

  1. Hi, Leon

    COOKIES For a long time I want to clarify a detail relative to the name by which they arise.

    I have a deskop with the W2000 and IE 6.0 where I appear cookies with the name of the type myname@amazon[1], myname@amazon[2] …

    While on my laptop with WXP sp3 IE8.0 me cookies appear with the name of the type myname@amazon

    Can you explain What for the index [x] in the name?

    Grateful for the attention.

    M. Delgado

    Reply

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