What Are Website Cookies?

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You’ve probably heard of internet cookies, but what exactly are cookies? What does this have to do with your privacy? Here’s what you need to know.

Internet cookiesWhether you’re browsing Google search results, logging into Facebook, or just chatting on online forums, you will come across cookies. These cookies are actually harmless but, like passwords or email addresses can be exploited when placed in the wrong hands.

Keep reading to learn about what cookies are and why they can be so dangerous in the wrong hands.

What are Website Cookies?

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Cookie is a file on your computer that is initiated when you visit a website or a small package of information stored on your computer by a website. Cookies store a small amount of information about your interactions with websites. Cookies are created on your first visit and then checked on repeat visits by the website that created them.

Why do cookies have that name?

The cookie does have a weird name, but no one has a direct answer as to why it’s called that. One theory is that it came from the term “magic cookie“, which was the term used for data packets in 1979. Another theory is that it refers to Hansel and Gretel , who roams the forest using cookie crumbs. Others said it was because, at the time, the show called the Andy Williams Show had a character called “Cookie Bear” who would ask for a cookie, just like the computer did.

How Does Your Computer Get Cookies?Â

Regardless of how the cookie got its name, you’ve probably seen websites telling you they’re going to give you one. You can even get the option to customize what is stored in it. This pop-up is due to the EU’s GDPR law, which states that users must consent to cookies that store personal data. That’s why websites these days seem so eager to tell you about their use of cookies.

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These cookies are specific to you, and can be read by web servers when you interact with them. Programs on your computer can also read them.

Your browser mediates cookies between your computer and websites. Websites may customize the content you view, depending on the cookies you store. Cookies may expire after a certain period of time (usually determined by the website that issued the cookie), but if necessary, you can delete them yourself.

Why do cookies exist?

So why do we use cookies on the internet? If a website wants to serve thousands of users without cookies, it must store and process all interaction data. By releasing the work to your browser, it becomes a faster and less difficult procedure.

Cookies identify you on websites. Cookies can store all kinds of information, such as your preferences, your browser type, your location, etc. The website can then use this information to improve your experience.

For example, have you ever closed your web browser, reopened it, and saw that your website didn’t log you out of the previous Login? This is possible because you have enabled cookies. Cookies for websites remember your login information and use them to quickly log you back in.

How do cookies affect you?Â

For the most part, cookies are harmless. Cookies are just another protocol used on the internet to facilitate communication between users and servers. Cookies cannot carry viruses or malware, nor can they transfer malicious programs to other users.

So what do you have to worry about? The worst-case scenario is the interception or forgery of one of your cookies, which allows other users to impersonate you across multiple websites. This could result in them eavesdropping on your user data or hijacking your account credentials.Â

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But don’t worry. Cookie security is largely dependent on your website and browser; the cookie encryption feature, for example, can help protect you from hackers.

A more common problem is a special type of cookie called “tracking cookie“. These cookies do not pay attention to you. Instead, they track all your actions on a specific website.

This data is used to build a browsing history profile, which can then target specific ads for you. Thus, it causes privacy issues where cookies are snooping on your every move.

Protecting Your Privacy With Cookies

Here’s what you need to know about privacy cookies: they can’t see any information that you don’t personally provide. In other words, just because a website has cookies, you don’t mean they know everyone in your family and which school you attend – unless you enter that information on the website.

The biggest problem with tracking cookies is that agencies can see your browsing history, because that’s what they use to target ads relevant to your interests. You can prevent them from doing this, of course, by tweaking your browser settings and disabling cookies.

If you are using a modern browser, you most likely already have tracking cookie protection. For example, last year 2019, Firefox started blocking tracking cookies by default. Therefore, it’s worth checking what your browser is doing to protect you from tracking cookies.

Firefox Now Blocks Tracking Cookies for Everyone

Firefox now blocks third-party tracking cookies and cryptominers by default for all users.

If you don’t want to disable all cookies and maintain your comfort level, some browsers allow you to disable certain cookies from certain domains. Meanwhile, more advanced browsers allow you to sync with blacklists managed by people or communities to block domains with obscure cookie practices. You can also enable HSTS to prevent cookie hijacking.

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At the end of the day, when it comes to cookie privacy, it’s all about trust. Do you trust the website to log every interaction? Read their privacy policy and terms of use — you can usually find it on the website near the header or footer. If you don’t trust them, you can always delete your cookies later.

Get Facts Live In Website Cookies

Website cookies store your data, but there’s no real reason to be afraid of it. Cookies exist to make your internet life more manageable by remembering who you are and how you use the website. However, if you don’t like the idea of ​​cookies, you can always tell your browser never to save them.