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Tech Term: Cookies

Posted on: April 18, 2018

Browser cookies might not sound delicious, but they are a particularly important part of your browser’s technology. Do you actually know what they do, though? Today’s tech term will explain just what these cookies are, as well as the purpose they serve for your organization.

What Are Cookies?
To put it simply, cookies are samples of information that a website will store on your computer in text format. This allows for easier access to particular information. It basically stores this information in name-value pairs to detect if you have ever accessed this website before. It will then personalize your experience using the information collected. These cookies are removed when the browser window closes but can be designed so that they linger much longer.

Cookies allow a website to essentially “remember” that you are logged in, but they also allow you to retain certain settings without them defaulting to the standard after leaving the browser. Cookies also allow the browser to store information about your browsing habits, which is why Amazon and other ecommerce sites might be suggesting all kinds of different products to you every time you load up the page.

How Dangerous is This?
At a glance, it might seem like these cookies are somewhat dangerous, but this isn’t necessarily true. All of this data can only be viewed by the website that delivers them, which means that the data from Website A can’t see the data from Website B. If any of these websites are malicious in nature, they wouldn’t be able to access the information stored by any other website.

Sometimes cookies aren’t used with the intent of helping you, though. Just like the above case of Amazon suggesting searches for you, other websites might also have ads urging you to make a purchase. This is due to an advertisement cookie that stores data for what you have demonstrated an interest in, and it can be found on any website that uses that particular brand of advertising, like Google AdWords for example.

Clearing Cookies
If you want to remove cookies that your browser has collected, you can start by using the Clear Private Data tool. This will also delete any saved login credentials that you have accumulated, though. You can still whitelist specific websites, if you wish, for the cookies that you don’t want to delete.

What are some tech terms that you’d like us to define? Let us know in the comments.

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