What is a cookie?
A “Cookie Internet” is a small file of letters and numbers that will be stored on your computer or other equipment of a user accessing the Internet. The cookie is installed on a browser-based web-server request and is completely “passive” (does not contain software, viruses or spyware, and can not access the information on the user’s hard drive).
What are the benefits of cookies?
A cookie contains information linking a web browser (user) and a specific web-server (website). If a browser accesses that web-server again, it can read the already stored information and respond accordingly. Cookies provide users with a pleasant browsing experience and support the efforts of many websites to provide user-friendly services: ex – online privacy preferences, site language options, shopping carts, or relevant advertising.
What is the lifetime of a cookie?
Cookies are managed by web servers. A cookie’s life may vary significantly, depending on the purpose for which it is placed. Some cookies are used only for one session (session cookies) and are no longer retained once the user has left the website, while other cookies are retained and reused each time the user returns to that site (‘persistent cookies’). However, cookies can be deleted by a user at any time through browser settings.
Why are Internet cookies important?
Cookies are the central focus of the Internet’s efficient operation, helping to generate a friendly browsing experience and tailor-made to the preferences and interests of each user. Redefining or disabling cookies can make websites unusable. Refusing or disabling cookies does not mean that the user will no longer receive online advertising – but only that they will no longer be able to take into account the user’s preferences and interests highlighted by the navigation behavior. Examples of important uses of cookies (which do not require authentication of a user through an account): content and services tailored to user preferences – news, weather, sports, maps, public and governmental services, fun websites and travel services; offers tailored to users’ interests – retaining passwords, language preferences (e.g., displaying search results in Romanian) Retaining Child Protection Filters for Content on the Internet (family mode options, safe search functions); measurement, optimization and analytics features – such as: Confirming a certain level of traffic on a website, what kind of content is viewed, and how a user reaches a website (eg through search engines, directly from other websites etc.). Website owners conduct these analyzes to refine websites to the benefit of users.
Security and privacy issues
Cookies are NOT Viruses! They use plain text formats. They are not made up of pieces of code, so they can not be executed, or they can not run automatically. Consequently, they can not duplicate or replicate on other networks to run or replicate again. Because they can not perform these functions, they can not be considered viruses. Cookies can, however, be used for negative purposes. By storing information about users’ preferences and browsing history, both on a particular website and on other websites, cookies can be used as a form of Spyware. Many anti-spyware products are aware of this and consistently mark cookies to be deleted in anti-virus / anti-spyware removal / scanning procedures. In general, browsers have built-in privacy settings that provide different levels of cookie acceptance, shelf life, and automatic deletion after the user has visited a particular site.
Other security issues related to cookies
Because identity protection is very valuable and is the right of every Internet user, it is advisable to know what issues can create cookies. Because they transmit constant information in both ways between the browser and the website, if an attacker or unauthorized person interferes with the data transmission path, the information contained in the cookie can be intercepted. Although very rarely, this can happen if the browser connects to the server using an unencrypted network (eg an unsecured WiFi network). Other cookie-based attacks involve incorrect cookie settings on web servers. If a website does not require the browser to use only encrypted channels, attackers can use this vulnerability to mislead browsers to send information through insecure channels. Attackers then use the information for unauthorized access to certain sites. It is very important for users to be careful in choosing the most appropriate method of protecting personal information.