From the 8th until the 10th of June E2EVC aka Pubforum landed in Amsterdam. 150+ geeks off all kinds gathered. Some amazing products were presented during E2EVC, one of them I will discuss in this article. I attended a session by Avanite, both Liza-Marie and Francesco were present and I had a nice good talk with them. Avanite has a solution for our data and privacy issues. Let me explain what the issue is and later on what they do (in a next blog I’ll show the goods).
For part two of this blog, the installation and configuration take a look here: (Re-)gain control of your web-data with Avanite and cleanup user profiles; install and config
You thought you liked cookies?
When we browse we collect cookies, sounds funny but that is what it is. Those cookies tell the site that you visited them before. That sounds pretty fine, doesn’t it? They just want to know you visited them. Hold on there is more. A lot of sites are free of use and in the session, there was a good drawing about this. The drawing says “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer. You’re the product being sold”.
I think this is a very sharp message that should be understood. We like free products, sites like Facebook, services like Twitter are free but as I told many customers in the past, free comes with a cost. Free sites need to make money somehow (not defending them) so they sell advertisement space and you. By placing cookies they learn about you directly and indirectly. with that data, third parties can deliver and streamline content you might like. We’ve all see it happen, you order a vacuum cleaner and for days you are spammed with vacuum cleaner advertisements.
The most known cookie scam operation is Facebook with Cambridge Analytics, of course, it’s been all over the news.
So Freesites place a cookie?
Free sites place a cookie but not just a cookie, they place a number of cookies. Every third party on that site will place a cookie or more. Major news sites, they had Financy.yahoo.com as an example in their session, it places about 111 cookies when you click on the consent message. The good thing since the 25th of May and GDPR is that we now see which companies place a cookie. I counted (might have miscalculated one or so) 111 companies, which I think is shocking much.
According to Yahoo, they use all these cookies for measurement, ad selection and delivery. That’s an awful load of cookies for just that.
What is the impact?
There are two areas of impact, one is privacy and the other one is performance. From a privacy aspect, you could wonder why they need all that data just for you to read an article. It gets worse if you think that some cookies are meant to make sure you don’t need to log in (hence they are the golden key to your account of particular sites). If someone gets that cookie they don’t need your username and password, they got the golden ticket in.
That’s the privacy thing and the security thing, fewer cookies is safer as less data is gathered and less information is saved.
Performance is another thing, without going deep in technique (that will be another article) saving 110 cookies and lots of other files per site per browser will not speed up your profile. No matter if you use Roaming profiles (serious anyone??) or a profile solution from Citrix, Ivanti or one of the others, these cookies are copied every day. Every day the number increases and your login/performance is decreasing. Avanite knows this and understands why this is. They got a solution for this.
It is even worse than this, of course, a cookie is never a cookie. So if you browsed a site with e.g. Chrome a cookie is placed, 111 if you’re unlucky. If for some reason you decide to browse that same site with Internet Explorer and FireFox the same cookie or 111 of them are placed again. With Windows 10 the size of the cookies database (it is a database now) is doubled from Windows 10. See the issue expanding? so let’s see what Avante does?
As mentioned before this article is to shed a light on the issue and the working sites. The next article I will install it and do a test run with it. show how easy it is to install.
Avanite offers an Enterprise solution that can be run as a service or executable at logoff that cleans up the unwanted cookies. They support the following browsers;
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Edge
- Mozilla FireFox
It is controlled by GPO and with that, you can select what is to happen with the cookies. You have the ability to check that only third-party cookies are removed and not the first party ones. You can set how long cookies are saved, what if you don’t go to that site within a week, should the cookies be saved after that or be deleted? There is a mix of settings to work with, there is whitelisting and blacklisting and many other settings. Once configured and once you set the timeframe you will see it starts to work.
So instead of 50.000 cookie files, you could go down to 10.000 files or even less. I’m very interested in this technology and what they do. I think they would be a great add-on to what we at Citrix do (be that last mile next to UPM) They have an integration document for Citrix UPM, click on the link to download it; download. The setup is dead simple, will set it up tomorrow in my lab to see what it does.
Their site is found at https://www.avanite.com
Next blog will show the goods, keep looking might be tomorrow that it’s online.. for now, Enjoy E2EVC of you’re there (ask Alex for the Wodka I think he is hiding it.. it’s a Finnish mix I made for E2EVC.