What Are Cookies?

Cookies are files stored on your computer designed to hold a small, specific amount of data about a particular website or client. The primary purpose of a cookie is to identify the user so his or her web experience can be customized.  Cookies streamline the online surfing process by saving certain information such as email, home address, shipping information, username or password, or even particular interests.

How do Cookies Work?


When you visit a particular website using cookies you may be asked to create an account, provide an email address, or even something as simple as state a personal preference. This information is packed and stored as a cookie, sent to your web browser, and then stored on your computer until the next time you return to that particular website. The next time you visit that website, your internet browser will send that cookie to the web server so the information can be accessed and reused.  Web servers have no memory, so they rely on these tracking cookies to remember who you are and your preferences. To work properly, cookies do not need to recognize where you are from, it only needs to remember your browser.


Cookies Have Six Parameters Passed Onto Them

  1. Name of the cookie
  2. Value of the cookie
  3. Expiration date of the cookie –determines how long the cookie will remain active in your browser
  4. The path the cookie is valid for- sets URL path the cookie can use. Any website not listed cannot access the cookie
  5. Domain the cookie is valid for – makes the cookie accessible to multiple servers in a domain
  6. Need for a secure connection – cookie can only be used over a secure server condition

Types of Cookies

Session Cookies- used by the server to store information about the user’s page activities, so the user can remember and pick up where the visitor left off next time they visit. Cookies act as a bookmark, so users don’t have to re-navigate websites upon return. Session cookies can also store information needed to shopping carts work, instead of forcing the user to remember every product he wishes to buy.

Malicious Tracking Cookies- Normal cookies do not compromise user security. However, Malicious Cookies can be used to track activity online, store preferences build profiles based on your interests. Once the profile contains enough information from tracking cookies, it can be sold to different companies without your consent. Many new antivirus programs help identify suspicious and malicious adware cookies when scanning your systems for viruses and provide you an opportunity to delete them.

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