You have probably noticed, or been annoyed by, the “accept cookies” pop up button on websites you visit. Most of the time, you click accept and move on with your business without giving it a second thought. Sometimes, you might be left wondering what are web cookies, and should you be concerned about allowing websites to collect them?
What is a Web Cookie?
A web cookie is a unique piece of data, placed on your computer by a website. This “cookie” can be read by the website and is the method that allows the website to know you as you.
Ways Web Cookies Benefit You:
- Web cookies are responsible for the saved login information at your most frequented sites. If you love visiting a site and being told “Hello %YourName%”—you are enjoying cookie functionality. We take for granted that we can connect to a major retailer’s website, put an item into a shopping cart, then quickly check out. We didn’t type our address, phone number, even credit card—web cookies made sure all that was available and ready to go.
- If you ever get kicked off a website mid purchase or lose your connection only to reconnect and see your items are still in your shopping cart, that is the result of web cookies.
Should You Be Concerned About Web Cookies?
The most controversial aspect of the collection of web cookies is the feeling of intrusion on an individual’s privacy. Each time you visit a site to browse products, make a purchase, or research information, this information/pattern/habit is stored and correlated to you by the cookie.
What’s worse, this information can be shared. Hence, when you search for information on a new fishing lure, you will likely see ads for all manner of fishing gear. Companies will use the information collected from cookies to target advertisements when you’re on social media and other random sites.
For the most part, web cookies are harmless, but they can cause problems if you are not careful about where you are accessing the Internet. If you are using a personal device you have less to worry about, but if you are visiting sites through your work or public computers, other users may have access to your browsing history and payment information if cookies are being stored during your session.
It is helpful to make sure cookies are dealt with appropriately especially whenever you are using devices that are not your own. Deleting web cookies is a quick process that can save you headaches and frustration when using devices that are accessible to other individuals.
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