What are Internet Cookies? (Part 1/2)

Have you ever encountered a website that asks you to “accept all cookies?” Then mindlessly accepting, without knowing what you actually just accepted. Cookies are text files with small pieces of data (username and password) They are used to identify the computer you are using while using the network. More specific cookies are used to identify specific users and make browsing the web a much better experience. All this data is labeled with an ID unique to you and your computer so when a cookie is exchanged between your computer and the network, the network reads the ID and knows what information to show to you. For example, cookies can keep track of language preference, remember items in a shopping cart, auto-fill forms, and track items you view on a store or website. While cookies can make your web browsing that much smoother, websites have to gain permission to enable them which is why some websites ask you to accept “cookies” 

There are two main types of cookies (Magic and HTTP) Both cookies generally work the same however, they are used in and for different scenarios.

Magic cookies send and receive data without changing it. They are commonly used to store passwords and such.

HTTP cookies are repurposed from magic cookies. They are more generally referred to as the cookies we use today. HTTP cookies were made to help make online shopping fix their overloaded servers. Nowadays cookies are used to keep track of sessions and store the data done in them. Sessions are the time you spend on the website (when you are on the website) They are used to make your online browsing experience so much easier. Cookies will recall things such as passwords and usernames to prevent signing in every time. Even keeping track of preferences such as sports news over politics. 

There are two types of HTTP cookies, one only keeps track of a current or single session. Helping your “back” button work on your browser. These are deleted and not stored when you leave the browser or log off your computer. The other can remain on your computer with an expiration date attached. They are automatically deleted once the expiration date hits. 

In conclusion, cookies are very helpful in making online browsing much smoother. They keep track of preferences and make it so that you don’t have to log in to a site multiple times. If you don’t want cookies keeping track of what you do, websites will offer ways to enable or disable them.




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