Members often question why we use browser cookies in our Enhanced Login Security. They have heard that cookies are a security threat and/or they feel that saving them will eventually clog up their computer and slow it down. There is some truth to both of those concerns but in a lot of ways they are overblown and don't apply to current browsers and computers.
We use them because they are currently the best way for us to identify your computer/device. When you login and say you want register that computer as your own...
our system puts a cookie in your browser. The next time you login, our system looks for that cookie and, if it sees it in your browser, you can skip the verification step, the one where we call or text you with a one-time passcode.
A cookie is a small text file that sits in a folder on your hard drive. When you visit a website like Amazon, for example, a cookie file is created and information about what you look at, search for, or put in your cart is recorded in that file. When you come back to Amazon, Amazon looks for that cookie file, reads it, and then presents you products based on the information in the cookie file. To some that is creepy and off-putting. To others it is a time saver and makes online shopping a richer experience. Is the information in an Amazon cookie file a security risk? Probably not, but it's possible to imagine a scenario where an identity thief could use that information in a phishing attack by sending an email to the Amazon user with an irresistible offer for a similar product. Is that possibility enough to not want to allow cookies at all? I don't think so. It seems like a small risk to take especially if you already browsing and managing your computer safely. It would take a fraudster some work to get to your cookie files and, from there, it is real work to craft just the right phishing pitch to get you to respond.
Now, will collecting and saving cookies clog up my PC? The maximum size a cookie file can be is 4kb. To give you an idea of how much space that takes up on a typical hard drive, 4kb is .0000008% of the capacity of a 500gb hard drive. Even if you had cookies from 1000 websites stored on your computer that is still less than 1% of your hard drive's capacity. It would take an awful lot of web surfing to put a dent in your PC's storage.
Are browser cookies bad for you? They could be, but, if you are practicing safe computing on your PC, the risk is small.