What Are Cookies and Are They Dangerous?

What Are Cookies and Are They Dangerous?

Internet cookies are widely prevalent, but many Internet users are unaware of their presence. However, if you’ve ever used a virtual shopping cart to make a purchase from your favorite online store, you’ve no doubt encountered Internet cookies. While cookies are frequently used for harmless website functionality, they are also used for more controversial activities such as tracking user activities. But what exactly are Internet cookies, and why do they matter? In today’s article, we’ll answer these two important questions and shed light on the essential information every Internet user should know about Internet cookies.

What Exactly Are Internet Cookies?

Internet cookies are small bits of data that are stored as text files on a browser. In short, Internet cookies function to associate these bits of data to specific users. To accomplish this, they must contain at least two pieces of data: a unique user identifier and some information about that unique user. The four common types of cookies are:

  • Session Cookies
    Session cookies do not collect information from a user’s computer. These cookies are temporary and are erased once a user closes their browser. Session cookies allow users to be recognized within a website so that any selections or changes are remembered from page to page, and users are not repeatedly asked for the same information. Shopping cart features are a common example of this, as session cookies allow the cart to “remember” which items you place in your cart and select for purchase.

  • Persistent Cookies
    These cookies can provide websites with user preferences. They are designed to provide fast and convenient access to familiar objects to enhance UX. Persistent cookies can help a website remember your language settings or login information, for example, so that you aren’t required to enter them upon each visit.

  • First-Party Cookies
    These are cookies that are created by the site you are visiting and saved to your computer.

  • Third-Party Cookies
    Unlike first-party cookies, these cookies are not created by the domain you are visiting. Other parties create these cookies to track users who click advertisements. These third-party cookies are more often the object of scrutiny because they pose more of a security risk and raise questions of invasion of privacy.

Security Concerns

As an Internet user, it’s wise to understand the risks of cookies so that you can view and delete them when necessary.

  • Privacy Invasion
    For most Internet users, privacy is their primary concern when it comes to Internet cookies. Significant search engines and other advertising platforms track users and use the information to deliver targeted ads. Naturally, many users feel this is a gross invasion of privacy.

  • Cookie Fraud
    With Internet cookie fraud, cookies are used to either falsify the identity of legitimate users or use the identity of legitimate users to perform malicious acts.

To avoid fraud, it’s critical to keep your browser up to date, as many cookie scams are designed to capitalize on security holes in outdated browsers. It’s also important to avoid questionable sites and take heed should your browser warn you that a site is potentially malicious. If you have privacy concerns about cookies, adjust the settings on your browser to become more stringent. It is also a great idea to use the private or incognito browsing mode, as this will allow you to browse the Internet without stored cookies.

Qkey Gives You Control Over Internet Cookies

In today’s age of encryption technology, it’s possible to feel confident in the security of your browser when you use Qkey. Qkey features a Smart browser that offers the ultimate in cookie control. This browser allows users to block or even automatically delete all cookies when you quit your browser. It also offers the functionality for blocking third-party cookies. We put you back in control, allowing you to experience total security every time you access your browser for an online transaction. Contact us today to learn more about how Qkey can help you regain control over your cookies and browser security!