While visiting any site you see a pop up asking you to accept “cookies” of their page. Generally people accept it without knowing what cookies mean here. What is the purpose of cookies and how do they work? There are many things we don’t know about cookies but we should know they can be a vulnerability to our privacy. This article will answer all these questions and if you want to know then have a look.
We all know how important guarding your privacy is and you can do that by knowing even the basics of cookies. While most of the cookies do no harm to you some can track you without your consent. It can get wore if hackers get access to these cookies and use it to spy on you.
Cookies are text files that contains small pieces of data (username and passwords), whatever identifies your system while you are using a computer network. For identifying specific users and improving your web browser experience specific cookies are used. Those specific cooking are called HTTP cookies. These cookies store data created by the server upon your network which is labeled with an unique ID to you and your system. When there is a cookie exchange between the network server and your computer system, the unique ID is read by the server and gets to know what information is to specifically to you.
- Personalization: Cookies are used to personalize your sessions by the means of customized advertising. You view any product online and then see ads related to that product on your social media accounts. It happens because of the cookies as they remember the sites and products you viewed and use this data to build targeted ads for you.
- Session management: As mentioned before cookies remember you and the sites you visit. It also lets websites recognize users and recall their login information and preferences.
Types of cookies:
There are two types of cookies – HTTP cookies and Magic cookies. They generally have the same functions but used for different cases.
- Magic cookies: Magic cookies is an old term referred to pieces of information that are sent and received without making any changes. It mainly used for logging in to a database system like a business network. The modern cookies we use today are its updated version.
- HTTP cookies: It can be said that the repurposed version of magic cookies are the HTTP cookies that are built mainly for web browsing. Magic cookie was used as an inspiration in 1994 by a Web browser programmer, Lou Montulli and recreated the concept for browsers. The cookies used presently are the HTTP cookies and sometimes used by hackers to spy on our online activities and committing a data breach.
Can cookies be dangerous?
Although cookies can’t infect your computer with any malware but can still cause harm to your system. How? Well if the attackers in cybercrime hack those cookies they can have access to your browsing sessions. And nowadays cybercrimes are spreading like forest fire. Here, the intensity of the dangers of cookies depends on where do they come.
- First-party cookies: These cookies are created by the website you are using. Although they are safer if you are browsing any nonreputed or malicious websites then cookies can be risky for your system.
- Third-party cookies: The intensity of trouble is higher in this one. These cookies are generated by websites you are not browsing but are linked to the ads of that page. If you visit a page with 5 ads it will generate 5 cookies even if you didn’t click on the ads. These cookies let the analytic companies or advertisers track your browsing history on any sites across the web containing their ads.
- Zombie cookies: Even if the user has not opted to install the cookies, zombie cookies are permanently installed on user’s computer and generated from a third-party. You may delete them but they will still reappear. This type of cookie is really difficult to remove. They were first created from the data stored in the storage bin of “Adobe Flash” and that’s why they are sometimes called the “flash cookies”.