Web-browser tool protects against tracking, spam and viruses
Is a lack of online privacy bringing you down? A new plug-in blocks both cookies and IP addresses by routing your page requests through their servers.
Fri, Feb 10 2012 at 9:10 AM
Cocoon's co-founder Jeff Bermant admits he's not a tech guy. "I wanted to give people relief from worrying about what can go wrong on the Internet," he said. "Cocoon is for people who don't know much about their computers."
Most websites, including the two Internet giants Google and Microsoft, install cookies to track their customers' movements online and capture the unique address of each visitor's computer, called an IP address. Why? To serve up more enticing ads. Cocoon blocks both cookies and IP addresses by routing your page requests through their servers.
The Internet Explorer tool, known as a plugin, launched last week in a trial, or "beta" version, which means there still may be some kinks to work out. The Firefox version is well established. The company has submitted Cocoon to Apple for use on iPadNewsDaily and iPhones.
Cocoon does not track where you go or what you do online.
The ads shown on Web pages while browsing within Cocoon are not based on your browsing history.
If you close your account, no trace of your data is left on Cocoon's system.
Cocoon appears as a toolbar at the top of your browser window. When you click the "power button," the tool bar turns blue to indicate that Cocoon has been activated and your activities are protected.
Cocoon includes "disposable email" that lets users set up unique, throw-away email addresses to use when they subscribe to a website. Then they can easily delete the address to stop an onslaught of spam.
Disposable email services have been around for years, but they require users to visit their sites to generate a new email address and then copy and paste it into the site that is requesting the information. With Cocoon's Mailslots feature, an option to create a one-time email address automatically appears on a site's signup page. Click "create mailslot," and Cocoon fills in a random, anonymous address at cocoonemail.com. In the future, email from that site is collected in your Cocoon inbox or mailslot. If you want to stop receiving emails, you simply delete the address for that particular site.
Cocoon also has built-in virus scanning tools that analyze all downloads and incoming email attachments both inside Mailslot and from your regular Web-based email accounts like Gmail and Hotmail. It also scans Web pages before they load to protect your computer from malware.
Cocoon touts its portability, but to access your Cocoon account on another computer the plugin must be installed in the browser of the computer you'd like to use. Once it is installed, you can log into your account with your email and password. When you log out of your session, it's as if you've never been there.
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