Cookies are text files with small pieces of data, like a username and password, that will identify your computer as you use a computer network. Specific cookies known as HTTP cookies are identified as particular users and improve your web browsing experience.
The cookies used by us are termed “performance cookies”. These cookies collect anonymous information about the behaviour of visits to our website, e.g. the most frequently visited pages, the amount of time spent on a page, the number of users that use links to or from other pages or websites, and the number of sales generated by each page.It is important to note that these cookies do not collect personal information about you, the user, and they do not allow us to spy on you. They are used to monitor website usage and to improve website performance.The server creates data stored in a cookie upon your connection. This data is labelled with an ID unique to you and your computer (your IP-address).When the cookie is exchanged between your computer and the network server, the server reads the ID and knows what information to serve to you specifically.
- Retrieving addresses for invoicing and deliveries.
- Remembering debit or credit cards.
- Keeping users logged into a website when web pages are re-opened.
- Remembering pending purchases in a user’s online shopping basket.
- Tracking sales.
- Analysing user behaviour and trends.
- Improving services and communications.
- Displaying appropriate user advertising.
- Developing and marketing products and services appropriately.
- Measuring the effectiveness of ads and web searches.
- Optimising websites and making them easier to navigate.
HTTP cookies, or internet cookies, are explicitly built for Internet web browsers to track, personalise, and save information about each user’s session. A “session” refers to the time you spend on a site.
Consequently, cookies are created to identify you when you visit a new website. The web server stores the website’s data and sends a short stream of identifying info to your web browser.
Browser cookies are identified and read by “name-value” pairs. These tell cookies where to be sent and what data to recall.
The server only sends the cookie when it wants the web browser to save it. If you’re wondering “where are cookies stored,” it’s simple: your web browser will store it locally to remember the “name-value pair” that identifies you.
If a user returns to that site in the future, the web browser returns that data to the web server in the form of a cookie. This is when your browser will send it back to the server to recall data from your previous sessions.
Websites use HTTP cookies to streamline your web experiences. Without cookies, you’d have to login again after leaving a site or rebuilding your shopping cart if you accidentally close the page. You are making cookies an essential part of the internet experience.
Based on this, you’ll want to understand why they’re worth keeping — and when they’re not.
Here’s how the cookie is intended to be used:
- Session management. For example, cookies let websites recognise users and recall their individual login information and preferences, such as sports news versus politics.
- Personalisation. Customised advertising is the primary way cookies are used to personalise your sessions. You may view certain items or parts of a site, and cookies use this data to help build targeted ads that you might enjoy.
Moreover, cookies are stored on your device to free up storage space on a website’s servers. In turn, websites can personalise while saving money on server maintenance and storage costs.
With a few variations, cookies in the cyber world come in two types: session and persistent.
Session cookies are only used while navigating a website. They are stored in random access memory and are never written to the hard drive. When the session ends, session cookies are automatically deleted. They also help the “back” button or third-party anonymiser plugins work. These plugins are designed for specific browsers to work and help maintain user privacy.
Persistent cookies remain on a computer indefinitely, although many include expiration dates and are automatically removed when that date is reached.
- Authentication. These cookies track whether a user is logged in and under what name. They also streamline login information so users don’t have to remember site passwords.
Some cookies may pack more of a threat than others, depending on where they come from.
First-party cookies are directly created by the website you are using. These are generally safer, as long as you are browsing reputable websites or ones that have not been compromised.
Third-party cookies are more troubling. They are generated by websites that are different from the web pages users are currently surfing, usually because they’re linked to ads on that page.
Visiting a site with ten ads may generate ten cookies, even if users never click on those ads.
Third-party cookies let advertisers or analytics companies track an individual’s browsing history across the web on any sites that contain their ads.
Consequently, the advertiser could determine that a user first searched for running apparel at a specific outdoor store before checking a particular sporting goods site and then a certain online sportswear boutique.