How to Block Spy Ware Cookies with Internet Explorer

A Cookie is small string of text that is stored on your machine by the browser at the request of a Web site. Its purpose is to keep track of information such as login or registration identification, user preferences, online "shopping cart" information, etc. Cookies are not usually nefarious in their purposes. One site's cookies cannot be accessed by another site. Often, cookies are used by advertisers to record the fact that they have already shown you a popup advertisement, and should wait a while before showing the ad to you again. Nonetheless, some users consider cookies invasive of privacy and disable them. Programs like PopUpCop® can prevent web sites from storing cookies. However,those programs are no substitute for a robust cookie management system, like the privacy control system in Internet Explorer version 6. Many web sites rely on cookies for managing complex interactions and cannot function without them. Therefore, if you disable cookies, you might lose access to sites you care about or you may have to spend needless time re-entering your preferences.

There are concerns that some Web sites and commercial organizations track users' online activity through the use of what is called ‘spy ware'. Usually coming in the form of ‘cookies' - these enable the cookie writer to build-up information about what you do and where you go on the Web. Software like Ad-Aware® and Spy Bot Search and Destroy® are available to check for and remove spy ware.

This tutorial will illustrate how to grab the specific information from the Ad-Aware program and how you can and this information to Internet Explorer to block cookies from the spy ware sites. The more cookies you block in this way, the more robust your cookie management system becomes. Note: these same principles can be use with Spy Bot and other spy ware detection applications.

If you don't already have Ad-Aware you can follow this link to download it from Download.com.

Open the program, and a screen like this appears:

Always check for updates, when the updates download click the Start button and this screen appears:

You can customize the scanning options, I usually select all the options available on this free version. You can also select which drive(s) you want the program to scan. Normally the first few times you should scan all of your drives, then scanning the C:\ drive would probably suffice with an occasional full scan just to be sure. Click the Next button and Ad-Aware will start to scan your registry and hard disk drive for spy ware. This normally takes a while.

The above image shows that the program is "scanning local registry". As objects are found they are added to the list in the Summary section. The above image was taken at the beginning of the scan, I have 0 New objects. The first few times you run this program, and if you don't follow the steps for blocking cookies in IE, then you will get quite a few every scan. I haven't scanned my computer for a few weeks now, however I've been blocking the cookie info in IE every time so I seldom get very many objects. Rats.... the below screen shows that this process does work, I'll have to scan another machine and see if I can find more spy ware The below image actually displays the results you want to achieve.

OK, after scanning 2 machines I found the following image, notice it shows 48 running processes and 3 New Objects. These objects are Files which is exactly what we need to work with.

Click the Next button to see the scanning results image below:

This is the hardest part, placing your cursor between the Object and Comments categories (the cursor changes to an arrow pointing both left and right) hold down the left mouse button and expand the Object column until the full path name is displayed as shown below:

In this example, I will have to make 3 entries to IE, one for each object found above. To make matters simpler, I am going to select the second document to work with, select the first from your list and follow along. "Right Click" the Start button on the bottom left side of your display, and then "Left Click" the link to "Explore". A screen similar to the one below opens, navigate the the file "qksrv[1].txt inside your cookies folder, by expanding (clicking on the + sign to the left of) the "Documents and Settings" folder. Expand the "Administrator" folder and then open the "Cookies" folder. Obviously your path will be a bit different, just take it apart folder by folder, the path is separated by the \ sign in the above illustration.

Finally highlight the text file named in the "Scanning Results" image and open it with notepad or a similar text editor as shown below:

Notice a short domain name, on line 3 called qksrv.net. You should find a similar domain name on your file, jot that name down or copy it to the clip board for the next steps. By the way we are almost done.

Next Open your Internet Explorer browser. Click on the "tools" drop down menu and select "Internet Options" from the bottom of that list. Next select the "privacy tab" and you should be at a window similar to the one below:

Click on the ""Edit" button near the bottom right. A screen similar to the one below opens, add the short domain name you copied or type it in the box provided. Notice I just put in qksrv.net, there is no WWW. in front of it, nor is http:// on it, just the short part of the domain name.

Hit the "Block" button and the name will be added to the list below. Notice I already have a bunch of names listed, if you want to type them into your computer do so now. Follow the above steps from the "Scanning Results" image down to here again for each of the domain names listed in your "spy ware" cookies list. If you want to leave the "Privacy Actions" window open (the above illustration) to speed up the process, just don't click the OK button until you have all of your short domain names entered in the list.

Within a few weeks you will be well on your way to having a robust cookie management system.