You must have heard of ‘cookies’ stored on your computer and that at times you need to clean them regularly while at other times they are useful for fast and easy filling in of forms and information on the net. So what exactly are these internet cookies or web cookies and why are they needed?
Internet cookies are the files that store data on the user computer and the server. The reason for storing this data is so that when required, it can read it for a fast access and simultaneously, saving in a lot of time while entering information in a website, since that bit of information has already been collected and stored on the user’s PC. Cookies are mainly stored by online shopping websites to keep a track of your purchases and information entered and save you from entering them again and again.
How these web cookies function can be understood better following this example. When a user visits a website, the first time the web server tracks the visit and with every subsequent visit thereafter, it checks on which pages are visited more often than the others by the server gathering cookies from your browser and keeping a track of your surfing.
The kind of information cookies trace are your computer’s operating system, browser that you are using, your internet connection, and IP address. Cookies are usually safe but all cookies can’t be trusted that can track confidential information you share on the net. Cookies can be classified into two types:
1. Session cookies: The life span of these cookies is till an individual’s stay on a particular website. The moment that particular website is closed, the cookies associated with it are gone too. Session cookies are there to enable a user to surf easily, where the information about each page visited, gets accumulated simultaneously.
2. Persistent cookies: These cookies are stored on the PC and each time the user visits a particular website, the cookies enable the user to enter information that has been entered before and now saved as cookies. Every browser has settings where you can fix the amount of time you want the persistent cookies to be stored.
Once cookies are stored on a website, the user need not enter the same information manually every time. Information that has been fed the first time can be retrieved later.
One security lapse that a cookie has is, anyone using your computer can access your important information stored via cookies.