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What are Cookies?
Cookies are small amount of text-only data saved on the computer while browsing a certain website. Typically, they contain two pieces of information: a site name and a unique user ID.
Why are they called Cookies?
It was first called cookie by Lou Montulli. He took it from the term magic cookie. Magic cookie refers to bundles of data sent to and received from Unix computers.
Are Cookies Programs or Viruses?
Cookies are just plain text files saved on the computer while browsing. Since they are plain text files, they cannot be run and cannot infect nor destroy other data on the computer. Therefore, cookies are not viruses and also not programs.
How do Cookies Work?
When you browse a site for the first time, a cookie is saved onto your computer. On your next visit to the site, your computer checks to see if it has a relevant cookie or a cookie that has the site name. If it has a cookie present, it sends the information from that cookie back to the site.
The site will then recognise that you have visited before and customises what shows up on screen taking into account your previous activity.
Advantages of Cookies
Some cookies are more advanced. They can record your activities such as how much time you spent on each web page, the links you clicked and even your choice of layout and colors. Cookies can also be used to save data regarding your ‘shopping cart’ by adding items as you click.
There endless possibilities and generally cookies are beneficial. It makes your interface with favorite sites smoother. Without cookies, online shopping would not be this simple.
Disadvantages of Cookies
There is nothing strange about the information stored by cookies, but you may just not like the idea of your name being included in marketing lists, or your data being used to spot you for special offers.
There was a controversy when cookies first started to appear. Some people viewed them as malicious since your computer was being used without warning to save personal information about you. Information that could then be used to draw information on your browsing activities.
What is a Tracking cookie?
A tracking cookie is used by online advertisers and marketing companies. It contains specific information about your computer and your browsing history. This is used by the company to display advertisements it thinks you’d be inclined to.
A third-party cookie is a type of tracking cookie added to a computer by a different website or company for which the cookie is utilised. For example, a website has a button for liking them on Facebook. Clicking the Facebook Like button on the website adds a Facebook cookie to your computer. Because the cookie for Facebook came from the website, the cookie is treated a third-party tracking cookie.
What is Cookie Stealing?
After logging into a site with your username and password, a cookie that has a specific badge is stored to your computer to identify you as a legitimate visitor to the server. Cookie stealing is a way of taking that cookie from your computer in order to access your account. Once your cookie has been taken, any computer with that cookie can open your account without login details as long as the cookie has not changed nor expired since it was taken.
What is the Cookie Law?