An “Internet Cookie” (also known as “cookie browser”, “HTTP cookie” or simply “cookie”) is a small file of letters and numbers that will be stored on your computer, other equipment of a user accessing the Internet. The cookie is installed through a web browser request from a browser (eg Internet Explorer, Chrome) and is completely “passive” (does not contain software, viruses or spyware and can not access the information on the user’s hard drive).
Cookies play an important role in facilitating the access and delivery of multiple services the user enjoys on the Internet, such as:
- Customize some settings like:
– the language in which a site is viewed
– the currency in which certain prices or tariffs are expressed,
– keeping options for different products (measures, other details, etc.) in the shopping cart (and saving these options) – generating the flexibility of the shopping cart;
– accessing old preferences by clicking the “Next” and “Back”.
- Cookies provide site owners with feedback on how their sites are used by users so they can make them even more effective and accessible to users;
- Allow multimedia or other applications from other sites to be included in a particular site to create a more valuable, useful, and enjoyable browsing experience;
- Improve the efficiency of online advertising.
A cookie contains information that links 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.
Cookies are managed by web servers. The life of a cookie 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.
Certain sections of content on some sites may be provided through third parties / providers (eg news-box, video or commercial). These third parties may place cookies through another website and they are called “third party cookies” because they are not placed by the owner of that website. Third-party vendors must also comply with the applicable law and privacy policies of the site owner.
These cookies may come from the following third parties: facebook.com, twitter.com, etc.
A visit to the website may place cookies for purposes of:
- increase website performance;
- visitor analysis;
- user registration.
On some pages, third parties can set their own anonymous cookies in order to track the success of an application or to customize an application. Due to the usage, the website can not access these cookies, just as third parties can not access the cookies owned by that website. For example, when the user distributes an article using the social network button on a website, that social network will record the user’s activity, not the website on which the button is located.
Cookies store information in a small text file that allows a website to recognize a browser. The web server will recognize the browser until the cookie expires or is deleted. The cookie stores important information that enhances your Internet browsing experience, for example:
- the settings of the language in which you want to access a site;
- keeping a user logged in to your webmail account;
- online banking security;
- keeping products in the shopping cart.
Cookies are the central focus of the Internet’s efficient operation, helping to generate a friendly browsing experience and tailored to the preferences and interests of each user. Denying or disabling cookies can make some 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 government services, fun websites and travel services;
- offers tailored to users’ interests – retaining passwords, language preferences (eg 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 type 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.
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. Because it stores information about users’ preferences and browsing history on both a website and 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.
Since identity protection is very valuable and is the right of every Internet user, it is advisable to know what issues can be created by cookies.
Because their information is constantly transmitted in both directions between the browser and the website if an attacker or unauthorized person interferes with the data transmission, 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.
Here are some tips that can help you navigate with care, but with cookies:
- Customize your browser settings for cookies to reflect a comfortable level for your cookie security;
- if you do not mind cookies and you are the only person using your computer, you can set expiration dates to store your browsing history and personal data;
- if you share your computer access, you can consider adjusting your browser to delete individual browsing data each time you close your browser. This is a way to access websites that place cookies and delete any visitor information at the end of the browsing session;
- install and constantly update your antispyware applications. Many of the applications for detecting and preventing spyware include detecting attacks on sites. This prevents the browser from accessing websites that could exploit browser vulnerabilities or download dangerous software;
- Make sure your browser is always up to date. Many of the cookies-based attacks are made by exploiting the weaknesses of the old versions of browsers.
Cookies are everywhere and can not be avoided if you want to enjoy access to the best and largest websites on the Internet – local or international. With a clear understanding of how they work and the benefits they bring, you can take the necessary security measures so you can safely navigate the Internet.
There are people for whom the storage of information extracted from their computer or mobile device is relatively invasive, especially when the information in question is stored and used by third parties that are unknown to them. If you prefer, you can block all cookies or just some of them or even remove cookies that have been installed on your terminal. Be aware, however, that you may not be able to use certain features. To enable this jam, you need to change your browser’s privacy settings. Some third-party operators have developed tools whose modules allow deactivation of data collection and use. Disabling and refusing to receive cookies can make some sites unfeasible or difficult to visit and use. Also, refusing to accept cookies does not mean that the user will no longer receive / see online advertising. Browser settings can be made to prevent cookies from being accepted, or you can adjust your browser to accept cookies from a particular website. But, for example, if a user is not registered using cookies, he will not be able to leave comments. All modern browsers offer the ability to change cookies settings.
These settings are usually found in the Browser’s “Options”, “Settings” or “Preferences” menus.
You can always ask to delete or download a copy of your data from this site.