Cookies are necessary to the modern Internet but can damage your privacy. As an essential component of online browsing, HTTP cookies facilitate more personalized, convenient website visits. Browser cookies are used to remember your website logins, shopping carts, and other information. However, they can also be a source of private information for criminals to surveil. Below you will see the definition of a cookie, what it is used for, and other information.
What Are Cookies?
What Are Cookies Used For?
- Session management. For example, cookies allow websites to recognize users and remember their personal preferences, such as sports news versus politics.
What are the different Types of Cookies?
Some of the most significant types of cookies include:
1. Session cookies
Websites employ a session cookie to track a user’s session. Session cookies are erased after the user’s session is over — once they log out of their account on a website or leave the site. Session cookies have no expiration date; this indicates to the browser that they should be deleted once the session is over.
2. Magic cookies
This old term in computing refers to packets of information transmitted and received without alteration. Typically, this would be employed to access a computer database system internal to a business, such as a network. This idea is older than the modern
"cookie" we utilize today.
3. HTTP cookies
HTTP cookies specifically designed for web browsers to record, personalize, and save information about each user’s session. A session is the amount of time you spend on a website. Cookies are employed to recognize you when you visit a new website. The server that hosts the website’s data transmits a brief, identifying message to your web browser. Browser cookies are placed by their name and value pairs. These instructions tell cookies where to go and what information to remember.
4. Authentication cookies
Authentication cookies are used to maintain user sessions, created when a user logs into an account via their browser. They ensure that confidential information is delivered to the intended users by associating user account information with a cookie identifier that is unique to each user.
5. Tracking cookies
Cookies that are generated by tracking services are called tracking cookies. This is because they observe user behavior, and browsers transmit this information to the associated tracking service the next time they visit a website that utilizes that service.
6. Zombie cookies
"zombies" in popular fiction, zombie cookies will regrow after being deleted. Zombie cookies have multiple copies of themselves that are not stored in the specific location for cookies. They utilize these backups to re-appear within a browser after they are deleted. Dishonest advertising networks and cyber criminals sometimes employ zombie cookies.
How do Browser cookies affect user privacy?
Cookies can be employed to record browsing activity, including for advertising purposes. However, many users do not want their online behavior to be monitored. Additionally, users need more transparency or control over the data tracking services collected. Even when cookie-based tracking is not associated with a specific user’s device or name, with some types of monitoring, it is still possible to associate a record of a user’s browsing activity with their real identity. This data could be utilized in many ways, including unwanted advertising, stalking, or harassment of users. This is only the case for some forms of cookie usage.
"necessary" for the website to function. In addition, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) considers cookie identifiers personal information, so its regulations apply to the usage of cookies in the EU. Therefore, any personal data collected through cookies is also subject to the GDPR’s jurisdiction. Because of these regulations, many websites now show banners that allow users to control and review the cookies those websites utilize.
Why Cookies on the Internet Can Be Dangerous
Since the information stored in cookies is constant, cookies are not harmful. They cannot spread viruses or other malware to computers. However, some cyberattacks can take over cookies and allow access to your browsing history. The threat is their capacity to identify the browsing histories of individuals. To explain, let’s discuss what cookies to be wary of. Some cookies have a more significant threat than others, depending on their origin.
- First-party cookies. The ads are generated by the website you are visiting. These are typically more secure if you visit authority sites or ones that have not been compromised.
- Third-party cookies. They are produced by websites that are different from the pages that users are currently browsing. These are typically associated with advertisements on the page. For example, visiting a site with ten ads may produce ten cookies even if users never interact with them. Third-party cookies allow advertisers or analytics companies to observe an individual’s browsing history across multiple websites containing their advertisements. As a result, the advertiser could deduce that a user first searched for running apparel at a specific outdoor store before visiting a particular sporting goods website and then a typical online retailer of sportswear.