What are Cookies

What Are Cookies?

Also known as brows­er cook­ies or track­ing cook­ies, cook­ies are small, usu­al­ly encrypt­ed text files, locat­ed in your browser’s directory.

They are used by pub­lish­ers on the Inter­net to help users nav­i­gate web­sites and per­form cer­tain func­tions. Thanks to their core role of enhanc­ing usabil­i­ty or site func­tions, com­plete­ly dis­abling cook­ies may pre­vent users from using cer­tain websites.

This is how some sites know when you return and keep you logged in, or will dis­play a par­tic­u­lar page that you like. Often a cook­ie may be used to show some con­tent only once – say a pop­up or pop-under or some oth­er adver­tise­ment that shows only the first time you vis­it a site and not every sin­gle time you change pages or revisit.

Cook­ies are cre­at­ed when your brows­er loads a par­tic­u­lar web­site. The web­site sends infor­ma­tion to the brows­er which then cre­ates a text file. Every time the user goes back to the same web­site, the brows­er retrieves and sends this file to the web server.

Cook­ies are cre­at­ed not only by the web­site that the user is brows­ing at any par­tic­u­lar moment, but also by oth­er web­sites that run ads, wid­gets, or oth­er page ele­ments. These cook­ies gov­ern how the ads appear or how the wid­gets and oth­er ele­ments func­tion on the page.

Standard uses for browser cookies

Web­sites set cook­ies to help authen­ti­cate a user if the user logs into a secure area of a web­site. Login infor­ma­tion or cre­den­tials are stored in a cook­ie so that the user may enter and exit the web­site with­out hav­ing to re-type the same login infor­ma­tion over and over again.

Session Cookies

Ses­sion Cook­ies are used by the web serv­er to store infor­ma­tion about user page activ­i­ties so users can eas­i­ly pick up where they left off on the server’s pages. With­out using such cook­ies, a web­page can not ‘remem­ber’ where you were on your last vis­it – this can only be done with the use of ses­sion cook­ies. Ses­sion Cook­ies tell the serv­er what pages to show the user so the user does­n’t have to remem­ber where he/she left off or start nav­i­gat­ing the site all over again. Ses­sion Cook­ies func­tion almost like a “book­mark” when used on such a site. Sim­i­lar­ly, cook­ies can store order­ing infor­ma­tion need­ed to make shop­ping carts work instead of forc­ing the user to remem­ber all the items the user put in the shop­ping cart. This is very use­ful if your sys­tem expe­ri­ences a dis­rup­tion in con­nec­tiv­i­ty or your com­put­er ‘crash­es’ while you are in thr process of fill­ing a shop­ping cart.

Persistent or tracking Cookies

Per­sis­tent Cook­ies store user pref­er­ences. Many web­sites allow users to cus­tomize exact­ly how infor­ma­tion is pre­sent­ed through site lay­outs or themes. These cus­tomiza­tions make the site eas­i­er to nav­i­gate and/or lets user leave a part of the user’s “per­son­al­i­ty” at the site.

Cookie security and privacy issues

Cook­ies are NOT virus­es. Cook­ies use a plain text for­mat. They are not com­piled pieces of code so they can­not be exe­cut­ed nor are they self-exe­cut­ing. Accord­ing­ly, they can­not make copies of them­selves and spread to oth­er net­works to exe­cute and repli­cate again. Since they can­not per­form these func­tions, they fall out­side the stan­dard virus definition.

Cook­ies CAN be used for mali­cious pur­pos­es though. Since they store infor­ma­tion about a user’s brows­ing pref­er­ences and his­to­ry, both on a spe­cif­ic site and brows­ing among sev­er­al sites, cook­ies can be used to act as a form of spyware.

The way respon­si­ble and eth­i­cal web devel­op­ers deal with pri­va­cy issues caused by cook­ie track­ing is by includ­ing clear descrip­tions of how cook­ies are deployed on their site. Pri­va­cy Pol­i­cy Online strives to help web devel­op­ers gen­er­ate clear and easy-to-under­stand infor­ma­tion for web pub­lish­ers to include on their web pages.

EXPONENTIAL THEORY Reimagine the Future Through the Power of Thinking Big

By Aaron D. Bare + N. Forbes Shannon

With the rise of digital technology, business moves at unprecedented speeds, now an exponential pace. This pace is wreaking havoc on the business landscape as we know it. Disruption has brought "too big to fail" companies to their knees in a matter of months. It has made some industries obsolete.

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