Cookies Are Crumbling Your Privacy!
A look at what cookies are and why you may want to reconsider sharing yours.
Where do “Cookies” come from?
Cookies were originally invented when the first web browser, Netscape Navigator, came to be. A developer there wanted to create a way for customers to be able to shop on the internet, without having to store items in customers shopping carts on a server which was costly, and instead only process their items once purchased. Seems harmless enough, right?!
Why do we need them?
Imagine going to Amazon.com on prime day in anticipation of snagging some items at a great deal. Because of these deals many items will be in limited quantities so it is imperative that you navigate and add items to cart as quickly as you can. But there’s a problem, you see, you don’t have cookies so each time you click something on the page you have to sign-in again, no seriously login again so that Amazon can send your http request to the server and verify your credentials. Now you can continue shopping just remember you have to checkout one item at a time and add your shipping and payment information each time you select an item — OUCH!
One Smart Cookie
Web browsers create simple text files called cookies when you visit websites on the internet. Your device stores the text files locally allowing your browser to access the cookie and pass data back to the original website.
There are 2 types of cookies:
Session cookies are used by e-commerce sites to keep track of what you put in your shopping cart. Those are temporary and essentially vanish once you close out your browser.
Persistent cookies allow websites to remember settings like login or account information. But there’s a warning about some of those cookies falling into the wrong hands.
Websites you visit tell your browser to create a cookie. This way the cookie can hold data about you, giving you a unique id, keeping track of your activity and preferences. There is good reason for this as companies want to improve your experience with their website. A major part of that is speeding up your experience by not needing to ask for the same information multiple times. Just like your car can remember seat settings so that multiple drivers can automatically have the seat and mirrors adjust to their comfort level with the touch of a button, that’s what cookies can do for your web surfing experience.
Creating boundaries with cookies.
Cookies do have limitations on what they can do, for instance, companies are not allowed to share what you do on their site with other web addresses. There is also a limit on how many cookies a company can set ~300, which may seem like a lot but they are limited on how much information they are allowed to store.
If you’ve ever been to a website and it pops up and appears to be running a virus scan and states you have viruses, these could be legitimate sites that have been compromised, so they can scrape your cookie that way. Unfortunately, there are some bad people who spend a great deal of time creating programs that will scrape your cookies and use them to steal your personal info. Cookie scraping is where a hacker is able to copy code from your cookie, and login to the site you’re using.
You can stay ahead of the cookie thief by keeping your browsing history clear, disabling the ability for your passwords to be stored, and changing your passwords frequently as well.
So now that you know more about cookies, be diligent and pay more attention to the cookie permission pop-up that renders when you navigate the world wide web.