People who know me best know my favorite dessert is a chocolate chip cookie. I love cookies and there is another type of cookie you should know about.
I am talking about the kind cookies that are not so sweet and just like chocolate chip cookies (in my hips) they can stay with you after you eat them. You know them as browser cookies.
What are browser cookies?
Browser cookies are little files that are stored on your computer.
They record information on your preferences on the internet. Cookies work behind the scenes as you visit different web pages. Cookies provide a web browser with its memory.
Imagine you are driving home from work. You know your route and the short cuts and pit stop you like to take along the way. Once you are in your car you will turn the music you like and set the temperature that keeps you comfortable in the car. Maybe you like your seat at a certain height and the seat warmer on. These details are things you remember every single time you drive home. Cookies are the memory a computer stores as you browse websites.
Cookies and How You’re Tracked Online
When you go back to a website over and over your browser will remember the preferences you like through cookies. Without cookies each time you go to a website your computer would think it’s groundhog day and is starting over as you have never seen that website before.
What are browser cookies used for?
A cookie’s job is to provide memory during a web browsing session. This can be something as seamless as a website remembering your username the next time you try to log in.
Do you ever notice how if you’re shopping online and you add some items in your cart, close out the page, and go in the next day the items are still in your cart…. Well that is done with browser cookies!
Cookies also allow websites to remember your personalization and language settings.
Cookies can make time on the internet more convenient but you should also be aware of what information the cookies are storing about you and your habits. Browser cookies can be used to track your movements on websites and collect your data for advertisers.
Just like real cookies, there are many “flavors” of browser cookies.
A session cookie is a temporary cookie that only keeps information while you are actively browsing.
Session cookies keep track of users moving from multiple webpages. Once you close your browser session the cookies are removed.
Session cookies are common for online shopping sites. A session cookie is used to remember what you have in your cart as you browse an online store. I always add items to my cart and then keep shopping. I might go back to the cart to remember what I already added and then shop some more before I check out. The convenience of session cookies is that it will remember data entered on the page.
A secure cookie differs from other cookies in that they can only be transmitted over an encrypted connection.
Persistent or Permanent
A persistent cookie is a long-term cookie that remains after the browser has closed. This cookie Will remember login information for the next time you go to the website. These are Used for language selection and personalization preferences.
A first-party cookie is set by the website being visited to collect user data for preferences and advertising. Like many other cookies they are used to create a good user experience. The website using the cookie determines which information is collected and stored for the cookie.
Just like the name suggests this cookie is Used by 3rd parties (a company other than the owner of the domain being visited) to research users’ habits and demographic information. These cookies are used by advertisers to find products that target their intended user groups.
Supercookies are created through a unique identifier header that is sent from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). When you request a website part of the file that your ISP sends includes this unique header.
3rd party companies can use a unique header to track your movements on the web and display ads targeted for you. Unlike other cookies, they do not get stored locally on your device and remains on your computer even after browsing the internet.
Supercookies cannot be blocked by the settings in your browser since they originate with the ISP.You can reach out to your ISP to find out how to opt-out of these.
Zombie CookieWhen a 3rd party cookie gets created an additional “flash” cookie gets created and stored on the Adobe Flash player directory on your computer. If you delete the 3rd party cookie, the flash cookie will detect it and re-create it making it so that you can’t permanently delete the 3rd party cookie.
To get rid of them both you will need to delete the flash cookie and your browser cookies. A zombie cookie can be used by hackers to install malicious software. You can check your computer for flash cookies.
Why browser cookies are important
Cookies can hold personally identifiable information and location details. Cookies can be used to track habits and website visits. This information can be used for websites to display targeted ads. Cookies pose a risk when cybercriminals steal and exploit the information stored in the file.
Understanding cookies and how they work allow you to be in control of what information is collected about you while on the internet.
Think of it as being in the driver seat instead of the passenger seat. You wouldn’t allow people to get in your car to watch you while you’re driving so don’t allow entities on the internet to watch everything you do.
Log Data may include information such as your IP address, browser type, operating system, location, your mobile carrier, device and application IDs, the Users with whom you video chat, access date and time spent on features of the Services and other statistics and Cookie information… [emphasis added].Why you should care: While you’re using Houseparty’s app, you’re being surveilled and analyzed.
How to find out if a website has cookiesYou can click the lock icon in chrome or the information icon in firefox to see the cookies in use on a website. Websites should disclose their cookies in Privacy Policies. You can review the policies to learn how your information is collected and used.
How to manage browser cookies
Don’t get me wrong, some cookies are convenient and harmless but knowing which ones these are is important. You can review your browser’s security settings to determine if you want certain information collected about you while you’re browsing. You can also browse anonymously.
Just be aware that by limiting some cookies you could prevent your browser from remembering your personalization and authentication settings such as passwords stored.
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