What Are Cookies on Websites and Why Are They Important?

As you browse the Internet for work-related purposes, you may not know that your activity is being tracked. The web browser that you use to view websites on the Internet can save information in the cookies. Each website that you visit can save a cookie on your web browser.

Businesswoman accessing website with cookies

If you are not technology savvy, you may be asking, “What are cookies on websites?” Well, these cookies aren’t chocolate chip cookies or any other types of edible cookies for that matter. Cookies, or HTTP cookies, are small text files essential to Internet browsing.

What Are Cookies on Websites

What are cookies on websites, and why are they important for your digital business? Website data and user data are important to know. Here is your guide that will help you understand what cookies are.

You may have not known this, but when you visit a website, the website will create a cookie. The cookie will then store on your computer. The cookie is a packet of data that the computer will store.

The size of the data is small as a cookie is limited to 4 KB. Cookies in the form of text strings do not take up a lot of space on the computer. You can have thousands of cookies on your web browser, but it won’t affect the speed or performance of your computer.

Keeping Track of Your Activities

The data that is part of the cookies store in the computer serve an important purpose. It helps the website track your movement. It will track the number of visits and your activity.

Cookies are store on your computer with you in mind as web developers want to make your experience better. Websites use cookies to remember you. The cookies are brought up once you return to the website.

For example, if you are a business owner who buys office supplies from a website that sells office supplies, the website will track what you buy. If you frequently buy copy paper and ink toner for your office printer, the website will keep track of this, so when you return to the website you may see many advertisements for these products.

The cookies that are part of a website will keep track of your preferences. For example, if you visit a website that operates in different languages, the cookies will remember that on your first visit to the website you chose English, so it will always keep English as the preferred language setting unless you change it.

Market research also uses cookies to gauge trends. This is done through web analytics data. The data can be used to improve websites.

Types of Cookies

There are different types of cookies. The three most common types of cookies are session, permanent, and third-party cookies. Each one has a specific purpose.

Session cookies are cookies that are created once you visit a website. These types of cookies are temporary as they disappear once you close your web browser.

Session cookies are usually found on websites operated by the government, as well as bank websites. As the information present on these websites are personal and important, the session cookies are only meant to be present while you navigate the website, thus they expire after closing the web browser.

Permanent cookies do not expire. Even if you close the web browser or turn off the computer, these cookies will remain there. Permanent cookies expire at a date set by the website.

Websites use permanent cookies to keep track of usernames and passwords. If a website you visit uses permanent cookies, you may not have to reenter your username or password every time you return to the website.

Third-party cookies are also known as tracking cookies. Third-party websites are responsible for embedding third-party cookies. These cookies collect as much information about you as possible.

Information gathered includes search queries and your interests. This leads to more ads on websites related to products that you may have searched for. For example, if you use Google to search for a new phone, it will use its third-party cookies to gather information about the phone search so you may end up seeing ads about the phone on other websites.

Concerns About Cookies

By now, you may be thinking about privacy issues. While cookies are not harmful, those who intend on causing harm can hijack cookies for cyberattacks. Through cyberattacks, hackers can access your web browsing sessions.

Hackers can gain access to your usernames and passwords by hijacking cookies. This can enable them to access your login information to your bank accounts, emails, and other accounts.

If you are concerned that you may become a victim of a cyberattack as a result of cookies being hijacked, there are several things you can do to protect yourself. You need to learn where your web browser stores the cookies so you can manage them.

Keep in mind that every web browser is different, thus the steps to find and manage cookies are different. You should delete cookies, especially if you are using a computer that is shared with others.

Play it Safe With Cookies

You now know what are cookies on websites. Cookies are part of the Internet. As you navigate the Internet daily, cookies will be stored on your computer.

The cookies help make your experience better. Yes, there are some concerns you should have in mind. If you feel that the cookies may cause harm, you will need to delete them from your Internet web browser.

If you would like to read more about resources and knowledge for the small business CEO continue exploring the website.


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