what are internet cookies

What is an Internet Cookie? Are They Safe?

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We have all come across web pages telling us about their cookie policy and asking us to either accept it or decline it. Some users simply ignore the notification. Some do accept it while some decline. Whatever choice you will make either to ignore, accept or decline should be informed. So what is an internet cookie? And are they safe?

What is an Internet Cookie

An internet cookie (otherwise known as a browser cookie, web cookie, or simply ‘cookie’) is a small piece of data or text that a website (or web server – the location where the website resides) sends to the user’s computer through a web browser (e.g chrome, Mozilla Firefox) when the user is browsing the website. So if you accept the cookie notification prompt, these data get sent to you.

What does Internet Cookie Do?

Cookies are designed to be a means by which websites remember the activities of a user as he browses the website. These activities may include items added to the shopping cart in an online store, login in, and pages visited. They can also be used to record and remember information a user previously entered into form fields such as names, email, and addresses. In a way, they make the browsing experience hassle-free, especially for a website you visit regularly on the same device. A Cookie, therefore, provides a better user experience. In summary,

  • Cookie hold data about you on a website you have visited
  • They keep track of your activities and preferences
  • They thus aim to improve

Cookies are able to do all these by allowing a website to store information on a user’s machine and subsequently retrieving it. The pieces of information are stored in a way that they are given a name and a value to the assigned name. Cookies, therefore, helps the website know if you have visited before and your last activities.

For Example, a website might generate a unique ID number for each user or visitor to the website. It then stores this ID number on each user’s machine as a cookie file. This will also contain the information that the website got from the user while browsing the website.

Should You Accept An Internet Cookie? Are They Safe?

First, let me assure you that internet cookies are not programs or viruses and they can do nothing on your device by themselves. So by themselves, they are SAFE. they simply store information that you have entered or that they receive from browsers. But, oh yes there is a but:

Like many technologies, cookies are also not perfect or foolproof, as they can be used for malicious purposes.

However, with many anti-spyware programs available and browsers with built-in privacy control, you should be safe. As stated earlier cookies improve user experience and make website navigation easy, however, it is important to consider some factors when making the decision to set your machine to always accept cookies or reject them

You may consider this to see how you can protect yourself on the internet

Privacy concerns

A Serious issue in the use of internet cookies is privacy concerns. There are some cookies termed Tracking cookies. They are capable of storing long term information concerning your browsing history and patterns. Oftentimes, this kind of cookie is designed to boost telemarketing and to make internet ad targeting more precise. To tackle this, there are cookie laws and policies being developed, but it’s important that you know this. So here is my advice, read the privacy policy of the website you are to keep its cookies, if not sure about it, don’t keep the cookies, clear it in your browser setting.

Shared machine or device

This refers to a machine used by multiple users. A user’s cookies are stored on the machine or device upon a visit to a website. If another user visits the same website with the previous user’s cookies still on the machine, the website assumes it’s the same person. Consequently, the website believes the new user has visited before, thus loading the available cookie stored on the machine. So if you use a shared machine or device, my advice is, to BE CAREFUL of what cookies you leave behind. Note that all browsers allow you to clear all cookies it has saved, just check the privacy and security setting of the browser.

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