Not the one you pair with milk. Website cookies help protect your privacy when browsing the internet. However, allowing cookies means you permit websites to remember you, your logins, and other web visits and that can be a treasure chest for criminals.
What are cookies?
Cookies are small pieces of data like a username or password. This data is used to identify your computer as you use a computer network. In addition, some specific cookies, like HTTP cookies, also known as browser or website cookies are snippets of data stored on a browser when a user visits a website.
This way, it can recognize specific users and improve the web browsing experience, marketing, and generate conversions in remarketing, making it a valuable tool.
How does a website/browser cookie work?
When a user visits a website, all of its actions and activities are transferred from the site and then moved within its browser. Many cookies are picked up from multiple websites as someone goes from site to site.
So when they go back to the previous website they accessed, it can read the pieces of data (cookies) and recall information like previous actions and activities and information about the sites they visited.
Did you know that there are various examples of browser cookies that you use (without knowing) every day? Some of them are:
• website authentication
• shopping carts
• advertising and remarketing
First-party cookies and third-party cookies
First-party cookies are the ones that only stay on the website you are visiting. A user can opt to block or delete first-party cookies, which are also supported by all browsers.
Third-party cookies set up by another domain other than the one the user is directly visiting are used for cross-site tracking, ad-serving, and retargeting. It is also called “tracking cookies” because it keeps track of your activities across specific websites.
Are website cookies safe?
Technically, they are. The good thing about browser cookies is that they cannot infect your computer with viruses, malware, or ransomware. They only help website owners collect analytics data and improve user experience.
However, if the website you are visiting has third-party cookies, they can be of concern. In addition, tracking cookies present a real threat to your privacy since it collects information about you without your consent.
The advantages of browser cookies often outweigh their disadvantages. However, this doesn't mean that there are drawbacks such as privacy and security concerns or multiple computers or account users since cookies cannot differentiate two or more users. Therefore, content for user (A) might be the same content presented to users (B) and (C).
Can I prevent browser cookies?
Yes. Going into incognito mode on your browser prevents all search history from being collected on your computer. You may also use a proxy server or download browser add-ons to keep your identity anonymous when browsing the web.
Lastly, if you do not want your computer to store cookies, you can simply delete them from your browser by going to your browser's menu settings and unchecking the, ‘Allow sites to save and read cookie data tab’, and you're done. You can also set up your browser to clear cookie data each time you close a window.