Have you ever entered a website and had the website mention anything about cookies to you?

Many people see this request but do not seem to take the time to understand what a cookie is and what the purpose of cookies are.

So, what are Cookies?

Cookies is data stored in the web browser generated by a website when you are visiting the website. The data is then stored in encoded files within your browser. So, in simple terms, a cookie is a small file containing data which help your browser navigate through a particular website.

What is the purpose of a Cookie?

Websites use cookies to keep track of users visiting their websites and the activities of the user on the website being visited. So, what we mean by activities is data such as your login information, settings, and preferences which many people find useful on websites they visit often. It is important to understand that there are different types of cookies which perform different tasks but for the purpose of our explanation we will not be going too deep into this.

How does the Cookie benefit you as the user?

Cookies are used to personalize your online user experience and make it as simple and enjoyable as possible for the user. Because your data is being stored by the cookie it improves your user experience by not having to complete the same information over and over every time you visit the website. You can always choose to disable cookies in your browser but then this is returned in a less personalized user experience and time required on the website will most likely increase as you need to complete required information again and again.

Some online stores are particularly fond of cookies as the online retailer uses cookies to record the items you have in your shopping cart. If you browse the online store and disabled cookies you will most likely find that your cart always seems to go back to empty every time you transitioned to a new page. This is just an example as to how cookies improve your user experience as I am sure you can agree it would be incredibly frustrating to lose your cart items on every page transition.

There are many debates about whether cookies are good or bad, it is not a topic we will be jumping into today. Knowledge is power and you can only make informed decisions about your data privacy when you truly understand the internet of things you agree to online. A person does not have to be technically minded to protect their data, a person just needs to be well informed and do research on simple requests being made by your browser.