What Are Browser Cookies?

Written by on 25-02-2021

Whenever a user browses something on the internet, for example, reading an article on a website, suddenly a pop-up will appear on your screen saying, “Allow all cookies”.  

But what are cookies? Cookies, the right way to read it is HTTP cookies, these cookies are a small bit of data that are stored in your computer as text files, such as username and password.

The purpose of this is to keep track of user’s activity and enable user-specific features, cookies are to identify a specific user and improve the web browsing experience. The data is created in cookies by the server with a unique ID to you and your computer.

Cookies are very common, they are hundreds, or thousands stored in your browser now.

Key point:

  • What are HTTP Cookies?

  • Types of HTTP Cookies

  • Why Are Cookies Dangerous?

What are HTTP Cookies?

Other than Magic cookies, HTTP cookies, also known as internet cookies, are a similar version of the magic cookies and are currently used to manage online experience. HTTP cookies are built for the web browsers to keep track, personalize, and the information saved each time spend on the site.

For example, if you visit a website, the cookies will be generated for you, these cookies will identify you as the person who visited this site, once you re-visit the site again, the cookies will be used to recognize that you are the same user previously.

Types of HTTP Cookies

  1. Session Cookies - Session cookies are temporary cookies stored in the browser’s memory, once the browser is closed, the cookies will be automatically deleted.
  2. Persistent cookies - Persistent cookies will remain in the computer even after the browser is closed, but some cookies include an expiry date, sometimes they will automatically be removed once the time is reached.

Why Are Cookies Dangerous?

The web we use nowadays is dependent on cookies, such as remembering your login detail, storing preferable websites, allows you to store “add to cart” information in your shopping site. Cookies are essential, without them, you will have to relocate the missing password, websites, and information all over again.

However, cookies can be dangerous as well, although cookies themselves are no harmful, cookies can be used by cyber attackers to penetrate the browsing session and track user’s browsing history, good news is they can’t infiltrate the system with virus or malware, but your privacy may not be certain.

User must aware where these cookies come from, at least they may know how threatful it is, there are 3 types of cookies user needs to aware:

  • First-party cookies - If it’s a First-party cookie, usually it’s safe since it came from a reputable site.
  • Third-party cookies - Third-party cookies are different from first-party cookies, it’s more troubling since it links with many ads, if you visit a website that has 10 ads, 10 cookies will be generated. Third-party cookies allow advertising companies to track user’s browsing history that has an ad in it.
  • Zombie cookies - Zombie cookies are from third-party cookies, although the user did not opt it’s very hard to get rid of since it is permanently installed on the user’s computer, even it’s successfully deleted, it will resurface again. Advertisers may use this opportunity to continually track user’s browsing history.

CONCLUSION

Cookies are essential for the modern web nowadays, but they can pose a threat to your privacy as well. If you are not comfortable with the cookies, you can unable the cookies, each browser has its privacy setting, disable it and you will be free from cookies.

Marshall