A Beginner’s Guide to Cookies
For a foodie, a cookie may be a sweet food item, but when it comes to the internet, it is not what you might think. Cookies are not physical items, but are used for many tasks that enable you to surf the web more conveniently. This is not to say that cookies are not troublesome – these can be so in the event that you are not aware of clearing or removing them.
What Is a Cookie?
In computing, a cookie refers to a data packet that a web server receives from and sends back to the browser as it is. It’s formally described as a web browser cookie or internet cookie. It is short for ‘magic cookie’.
Whatever it’s known as, a cookie is made up of data of a user, which identifies him or her. When a user goes to a website, that site will send the internet cookie to his or her system. The computer will then keep the cookie in a text file situated inside the user’s internet browsing application. The file is known as “Cookies”, which makes it easier for the user to find it in their system.
What Does a Cookie Do?
The main purpose of it is to help the website track your activity on it. Sometimes, it is good to keep track of what the user does on that site. For instance, several internet-based retailers utilize cookies to track the products in a visitor’s shopping cart when they navigate their website. Without cookies, that visitor’s shopping cart will reset itself to zero whenever they click on a new hyperlink on the website. Because of this action, it would be tough for the user to purchase any product on it through the internet.
Cookies might be used on a website to preserve your last visit to it or record your sign-in details/credentials. This helps the user store their passwords on regularly used websites or to know where they went to or what they downloaded most recently.
Different versions of internet cookies track different user activities. Authentication cookies will track whether an individual is signed-in to the website, and if they are, under which name. Tracking cookies can be utilized to record numerous user visits to a website on a long-term basis. Transient cookies are utilized just when an individual is navigating a site; when they exit it, the cookie will disappear.
Are Web Cookies Safe?
In usual situations, cookies will not be able to transfer malware or viruses to your system. The cookie’s data will not change as it goes from one place to the other, so it will not negatively affect the way in which your system functions.
That said, certain malware and viruses may still come to your system in the form of cookies. For example, a ‘supercookie’ can pose a major security concern to your data. Several web browsers provide a means to block such a cookie though. A ‘zombie’ type internet cookie is one that recreates itself despite being removed, which makes it tricky to deal with. Third-party cookies can cause both privacy and security concerns because these facilitate anonymous parties to know what you visit and the things you perform on the internet.