What are cookies?

A cookie is a text file stored by a web browser in any device used to access a website, and it holds information regarding the user’s visit and his/her preferences. When the user returns, the browser provides the cookie with the stored information to the site.

What cookies are used for?

Cookies are used for adjusting a website’s content to fit a user’s preferences and optimize the website. They store useful information that improve the user’s experience of a website. They are most commonly used for:

  • Storing login information so that a user does not need to re-login on every visit.
  • Recognizing the type of device a user is browsing and any preferences applied to optimize the website specifically for the device.
  • Creating statistics that help website owners to understand how their users interact with their website, which allows them to improve their structure and content.

What types of cookies are used?

There are two types of cookies: persistent cookies and session cookies. Persistent cookies remain on your hard drive for a period of time specified in the cookie’s file parameters or until removed manually. When you return to a website and it requires you to login again despite previously storing your login information, it is usually because the persistent cookie expired; this helps to increase security while maintaining accessibility. Session cookies are used temporarily and expire once the website or browser is closed. They are used to track user activity on a website during a single visit. When a website requires that you verify your age or location once every visit before allowing you to view content and without requiring additional personal details, that is a session cookie at work.

Do cookies include personal data?

If there is a need for the collection of personal information, such as for creating accounts, then cookies may store personal information. However, it is required by data protection law that users are informed of the collection of personal data. This data will also be encrypted to render it inaccessible for unauthorized users.

Managing cookies

By default, browsers are configured to accept cookies. However, these settings may be changed to block cookies entirely, or to inform the user each time they are used. Detailed information about cookies and the options associated with them are available in each browsers’ settings.

You can easily remove any cookies that have been created in the cookie folder of your browser.

On Google Chrome:

  1. Go to ‘Tools Menu’
  2. Click on ‘Options’
  3. Click on ‘Under the Hood’
  4. Under ‘Privacy’ section select “Show Cookies’
  5. A new window should open called ‘Cookies’ In here you can see all the cookies within your Google Chrome Browser.
  6. Click on “Remove All” to remove all traces of cookies.

 On Microsoft Explorer:

  1. On the Start screen, tap or click Internet Explorer to open Internet Explorer.
  2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
    (If you’re using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings.)
  3. Tap or click Options, and then, under History, tap or click Select.
  4. Select the Cookies check box, and then tap or click Delete.

 On Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click the menu button and choose Options
  2. Select the Privacy panel
  3. Set Firefox will: to Use custom settings for history
  4. Click “Show Cookies…”. The Cookies window will appear
  5. In the “Search:” field, type the name of the site whose cookies you want to remove. The cookies that match your search will be displayed
  6. Select the cookie(s) in the list to remove and click Remove Selected
  7. Select the first cookie and press Shift+End to select all the cookies in the list
  8. Click Close to close the Cookies window. Close the about:preferences page

What Cookies Do to Your Devices

Cookies are browser dependent and are essentially text files containing information that browsers save in one of their specific folder. By themselves, cookies pose no risk since they do not contain virus in any form nor do they spy on your devices content to compromise security. They are used to make online surfing faster and easier by making the sites you’ve visited remembering who you are (through IP address or passwords, along with your own preferences).

 

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to write me here.