PasswordMaker uses an algorithm based on your master password, the URL of the site, your username and six other factors to generate the password on the fly every time you visit the site. That means it never needs to store passwords on your computer (or on a central server) -- so even if someone gets access to your computer, your passwords are safe since they're not actually stored on the computer anywhere.
Obviously, it's vitally important not to forget your master password if you use PasswordMaker. It's also important to remember or back up your account settings and configuration; the algorithm uses those settings for password generation, so you'll need to re-create them if your system crashes. The PasswordMaker site offers some planning tips so that you can recover from a system crash.
Cookies placed by ads and Web pages can be used to track you as you move from site to site: Every time you visit a page with code from a particular ad or other tracking network, it can check to see what other sites with its code you've visited, what you did there and what you clicked on, allowing it to build a rather thorough profile of your surfing habits.
If you prefer more private, less customized Web surfing, using your browser's security or privacy settings to block third-party cookies can help, but some tracking services are able to circumvent these controls.
The Ghostery extension, a part of the Better Advertising project, identifies code from 200 different ad and other tracking networks, showing you who is collecting data about you and what data they are collecting. You can decide whether to allow each service to track you or to block it.
When a Web page is first loading, Ghostery overlays a list of active trackers at the top-right-hand corner of your browser. If you want to explore further, you can click the ghost icon in your browser's status bar to bring up a menu listing all the trackers along with links to further information.
Ghostery is also available for Internet Explorer and Chrome.
NettiCat's BetterPrivacy offers protection against an increasingly common kind of cookie called a local shared object (LSO) or Flash cookie. LSOs are used by the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to store the same kind of information that's usually stored in browser cookies.
However, because LSO cookies are stored in a system folder instead of in the browser folder, they can't be easily deleted. What's more, unlike browser cookies, LSOs never expire, and they can hold about 25 times more information than typical cookies.
Since these objects are placed by Flash, your browser's security settings have no effect on them. And here's where they get really insidious -- some companies use Flash cookies to duplicate their browser cookies. You may delete the browser cookie for a site, but the LSO stays -- and it restores the original cookie the next time you visit the site. This reanimation capability has given rise to two more names for these objects: super-cookies and zombie cookies.