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What Is a Website Cookie? How Cookies Affect Your Online Privacy Data

Internet cookies are something you’ve probably heard of, but what precisely are they? How do they relate to your privacy? This is all the information you require.

Whether you are browsing Google search results, logging into any social website, or just innocently chatting away on an online forum, you have encountered cookies. They are not inherently harmful but, just like passwords or email addresses, they are exploitable when placed in the wrong hands.

What Is a Website Cookie?

Cookies are files on your computer that begin their life when you visit any website. They store little bits of information about your interactions with any website. A cookie is created on your first visit and then checked on repeat visits by the website that made it.

Why Is That Name Adopted for Cookies?

Although the cookie has a peculiar name, no one can explain why. One explanation claims that it comes from the term “magic cookie,” which was coined in 1979 to describe a data packet. The fact that it alludes to Hansel and Gretel, who used biscuit crumbs to cross a forest, is another. Another claims it’s because, in those days, there was a character named the “Cookie Bear” on the Andy Williams Show, who would ask for a cookie, just like a computer would.

How Cookies Are Received by Computers?

You have probably seen websites informing you that they are going to give you cookies. You may even get options to customize what gets stored in it. This popup is due to the EU’s GDPR law, which states that users must agree to cookies that store personal data. That’s why websites these days seem so keen to tell you about their cookie usage.

Cookies are specific to you, and they can be read by the web server when you interact with them.

source: google

Why Do Cookies Exist?

If a website wants to service thousands of users without cookies, it would have to store and process all of the interaction data. By offloading that work to your browser, it becomes a faster and less difficult procedure.

Cookies identify you on the website. Cookies can store all sorts of information, like your preferences, your browser type, your location, etc. The website can then use this information to enhance your experience.

For Example, If you have ever closed your web browser, re-opened it, and seen that the website didn’t sign you out? This was possible via cookies. The cookie for the website remembered your login information and used it to log you back in quickly.

How Do Cookies Affect You?

source: google

For the most part, cookies are not harmful. They’re just another protocol used on the internet to facilitate communication between users and servers. Cookies cannot carry viruses or malware.

However, there’s no need to worry. Cookie security mostly depends on the website and your browser; a cookie encryption feature, for example, can help protect you from hackers.

A more prevalent issue is a specific type of cookie called the “tracking cookie.” These cookies do not have your well-being in mind. Instead, they keep track of all of your actions on certain websites.

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