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Why Clearing Your Browsing History (Including Cookies) is Essential to Staying Safe Online

Much like your personal space, your online activity thrives on good hygiene.

While setting strong passwords and avoiding suspicious links are good practices to improve security and privacy, one essential measure doesn’t get the attention it deserves: regularly clearing your browsing history.

Internet browsing data is so much more than a record of the websites you’ve visited. Instead, it’s a collection of sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, can pose an immense security threat.

So, how will regularly clearing browsing data help? And what does deleting cookies do? Let’s take a closer look.

What Does Browsing Data Contain?

To truly understand why it is crucial to clear browsing history, we need to know precisely what data it saves.

  • Search History: Saved browsing data includes a detailed record of every site you’ve visited and when. This information is stored not only in the search engine but also on your device.
  • Form Data: Browsers store passwords and addresses on websites you frequent most. While saving this information aims to enhance convenience during online shopping, it also makes your sensitive and personal information vulnerable to leaks and breaches.
  • Cookies: Tracking cookies are designed to personalize your online experience: your browsing activity is used to create targeted ads, streamline online shopping, and save individual site preferences for your next visit.
  • Cache: Browsers capture files and data from the websites you visit to ensure pages load more quickly in the future. This seems convenient until you realize hackers can use cache data to access sensitive information, including transaction history.
  • Downloaded Files: Browsing data also includes all recent downloads. This could be a problem if you’ve downloaded files containing personal or financial information, as they can be seen by anyone with access to your device.
What Makes a Password Unsafe

What Are the Benefits of Clearing History?

As you can see, when you clear browsing data, you do much more than remove a record of the websites you’ve visited. Instead, you’re taking a critical step toward protecting your digital presence.

Consider three of the major benefits that come when you clear browser history:

Enhanced Security

The most obvious reason to clear browser history is to ensure that all of your online activity remains private. This is especially crucial when using a public or shared computer, as anyone who logs on to the device can potentially access your entire history.

At the same time, hackers also have the capability to access crucial information related to your banking accounts or transaction history, regardless of whether they can get access to your device.

Regularly deleting your history adds an extra layer of protection against identity theft, which has seen a 70% rise in cases since 2019.

Reduced Trackers

When you clear browsing data, you stop websites from tracking your online activity, IP address, personal information, and geographic location. Sure, this means that you will receive fewer targeted ads and recommendations, but it is a crucial safeguard against spying, snooping, and hacks.

For an idea of the threat posed by third-party trackers, consider this recent statistic: The number of data breaches in the US rose 78% from 2022 to 2023, with a staggering 3,205 cases reported last year alone.

Enhanced Performance

Clearing clutter can also improve performance, not just of your browser but also of your device. It may seem counterintuitive—considering the purpose of cache files and cookies is to make websites load faster—but clearing these files actually helps improve the loading times of web pages. This is because cache files and cookies are prone to bugs and errors.

Why is Clearing Browsing History so Crucial in 2024

There are many benefits to clearing your regularly deleting browsing data. However, a recent surge in cyber crimes has ensured that it’s no longer a simple option but a necessity.

In 2017, Yahoo revealed that 32 million accounts were hacked after criminals launched a sophisticated cookie-forging attack on the company. In a statement, Yahoo said that the forged cookies had enabled hackers to access crucial information about its users, including names, emails, passwords, telephone numbers, and even security questions and answers.

This isn’t a standalone incident, either. In fact, cookie hacking, or session hijacking, is a very common attack in which a cybercriminal steals a cookie to gain unauthorized access to an account and access sensitive information.

So, while Yahoo quickly dealt with this hack, the incident was an example of what could go wrong and conclusively answered the question, why would you delete your cookies?

What Happens When You Clear Cookies?

Apart from preventing another Yahoo-like incident, what does clearing cookies do?

Essentially, you wipe all personal data from your browser whenever you clear cookies. This includes all saved preferences and login information.

After clearing cookies, you may notice that some websites—especially those you frequent—load faster. This is because, with each new cookie downloaded, browsers have to work extra hard to find the right one, so when you delete extra cookies, it actually improves performance.

Clearing cookies also ensures that websites forget about you and any preferences you’ve saved in the past. This means that you will have to log in to a website that requires authentication again.

So, while deleting cookies doesn’t remove your saved passwords or autofill information stored in your browser, it may cause some slight inconvenience.

Maintain a Pristine Digital Trail with Loop8’s Clean Slate

Browsers already come with an inbuilt option to clear browsing data, including cache, cookies, downloads, and more. But if you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution, one that offers a high level of security without you needing constant reminders, we recommend opting for a dedicated browsing history cleaner instead.

Clean Slate, an extension offered by Loop8 Personal Privacy Controller, is a comprehensive tool designed to periodically clear browsing data, including cookies, histories, and local storage. This allows you to navigate the internet with peace of mind.

Want to learn more about what happens when you clear cookies? Download Loop8 and try out Clean Slate today.

Why Clearing Your Browsing History (Including Cookies) is Essential to Staying Safe Online
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