Internet cookies are these tiny files that get stored on your computer when you visit a website. Ok, but what else do they do?
In premise, they have been created to store website elements for faster-loading of subsequent pages that already have these elements in the same place. However, nowadays, cookies are used for tracking, ad targeting, and much more.
In this article, we will cover what cookies do, the types that exist, and how to take care of your privacy.
So keep reading to learn more.
What Is the Purpose of Internet Cookies?
You are probably wondering about the purpose of internet cookies. Well, the primary purpose of a cookie is to help identify a returning visitor, and thus provide them with a personalized experience by saving their site login info, checking past activity, and much more.
More descriptively, thy track your browsing actions, store accompanying data (such as personal data from, products you’ve inspected, etc.). When you re-visit the website, your experience is tailored based on the cookie’s information in past visits.
When you visit a site for the first time, the server sends a cookie to the browser, which finds its home on your device for future use. The next time you visit the site, the server will ask for and read the cookie to help load a custom version of the website for you.
This might not seem like too bad of a thing, and it isn’t. For example, online retailers use internet cookies to help store your shopping cart in case you leave. Without them, your cart would be empty every time that you click on a new page from the website.
Even though cookies come with good intentions, they are now used for many other purposes. Not all of these are ethical; however, they are not harmful either. Nonetheless, exploitation by advertisers, marketers, and hackers is imminent.
Most users are not aware of their actions being subject to tracking with these secret cookies. Thus, they might be subject to loss of personal information, starting with CC numbers and medical histories, found on the cookies on the computer.
The Types of Cookies
Now that you have a general understanding of what a cookie is and its purpose, we can examine the types of cookies most prevalent in daily web life. They are not in any particular order.
A transient/in-memory cookie is a session cookie that exists only during your time navigating the website. They are not harmful as the information recorded is temporary and is subject to deletion upon quitting the session.
These cookies are not subject to access via non-HTTP or HTTPS means. Thus, they mitigate the threats of cookie theft. These cookies do no present any privacy or security risks.
A tracking cookie is persistent, meaning it exists for a dedicated amount of time until it expires on a specific date. It is subject to deployment to collect information about a specific website’s web behavior over a certain period.
These cookies can only be requested via HTTPS connections, meaning a user cannot store the data over your network. These are encrypted and typically more secure than the rest.
3rd Party Cookie
A 3rd party cookie stored on your device by a domain that differs from the website visited. These are most often used by advertising networks to help track your history and serve you with relevant ads.
A zombie cookie is a super-cookie that gathers information about habits and history. These can redeploy regular deleted cookies and even those not stored on the device, making them an easy entry for privacy-invasion.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Once again, internet cookies collect information so that your web experience can become customized, and in some cases, simply functionally. However, suggested products and targeted advertising are all part of it, and cookies allow websites to use the user’s needs and fulfill their non-existent request for goods and services.
If you don’t like the idea of cookies tracking your movements online, there are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that they don’t.
When you use the incognito or private browsing mode, the browser will no longer store browsing history and cookies. If the computer is shared with others, using the privacy mode is even more important.
Privacy-First Search Engine
You can manually delete all browser cookies. You can also create a schedule or set the cookie to cleanse to happen after the session closing. However, with this, you will have to enter login information each time.
Using a Virtual Private Network, you can prevent your browsing from traceable profiling with the help of cookies. Not only will your IP be masked, but also encrypted to help you navigate the internet with an invisible cloak like Harry Potter.
Cookies Done Right
Now that you know what internet cookies are and what they are used for, you can determine whether you want them to be part of your web experience. In any case, remember that disabling cookies can often make your web experience dysfunctional.