What are Web Cookies and How Do They Affect You?

web cookies

When browsing the Internet, you have probably come across a pop-up that informs you that a website uses cookies. With GDPR rules recently put in place, this is a common pop up in many websites today.

For the non-tech savvy, the only cookie they know is the one they have for a snack during the day. However, cookies on the internet are files that are sent from and stored by the server of the website that you visit. Your web browser then saves them on the server.

What Do They Do?

Cookies store personalized information that you provide to the website or websites that you visit. They store your login information and your preferred section of the websites that you visit.

When you visit a website that uses cookies, from your usual browser, you will find that you do not have to fill in your login information every time. This is because its web cookies have stored your login information and you can access the website quickly and easily.

Web developers created cookies in the early 1990s when the Internet was not as deeply understood as it is today. Cookies identify how often users visited a website and how they interacted with it. For example, on an e-commerce site, they identify who you are and what you buy most.

Different Types of Cookies

Cookies are generally categorized into three different types.

The most common type is the first party cookie. These are created by the website that you are visiting. They provide a unique identifier to their visitors and record their preferences to ease the user experience.

Third party cookies are those produced by other websites. For example, websites that provide advertising track your behavior for more personalized ads.

Session cookies are produced by the website only for the period that you are on the site, and track your actions and interactions regarding that website.

Cookies store your information for much longer periods of time. They often expire in about three months or can be deleted from the browser manually.

Benefits

Web cookies enhance the user experience on the internet and various websites that one visits. Due to the existence of cookies, a web user is able to quickly access a particular website, without having to enter their identification and user details. This enhances speed, convenience and quality of the Internet experience. No one likes slow loading websites.

Also, cookies are not not harmful to your computer. They cannot transmit viruses to your computer.

Disadvantages

On the other hand, web advertisers and other data collectors create cookies that track website users. With them lying everywhere on the internet, they can collect data to create a consumer profile from your internet usage. They will then send highly personalized and targeted ads for your consumption from the profile created.