Thanks for the explanation.
The article by the-stickman in post 3 talks about setting the cookie in the browser using FireCookie in Firebug therefore:
1. Is a webpage the only way to set the cookie or can it be done using FireCookie using a very long expiry date to keep the cookie in the browser. Then add the rewrite rule permanently to the htaccess file and comment it out when not needed for maintenance.
2. If this can be done in Firefox, is it possible to create the cookie in IE9 which is the preferred browser? If so, how is this done?
3. This seems a simpler method than creating a protected page to set the cookie or am I missing something fundamental here.