Have you heard of cookies before?
No, not the kind made with chocolate chips or oatmeal raisins…
We’re talking about Internet cookies.
What Are Cookies?
Cookies are small text files that websites save on your computer or mobile device when you visit them. They are used to remember your preferences, such as your language or font size, and to track your browsing activity across different websites.
Cookies can be classified into four main types:
- Essential cookies: These cookies are essential for the website to function properly. They are used to remember your login status, language preferences, and other settings.
- Performance cookies: These cookies collect information about how you use the website, such as the pages you visit and the links you click. This information is used to improve the website’s performance and to make it more user-friendly.
- Targeting cookies: These cookies are used to track your browsing activity across different websites. This information is used to show you targeted advertising that is relevant to your interests.
- Social media cookies: These cookies are used by social media platforms to track your activity on their websites and to show you targeted advertising.
Can Cookies Compromise MY Data?
Cookies can pose a threat to your data privacy in a few ways.
They can be used to track your browsing activity across different websites, which can build a detailed profile of your interests and habits. This can be used for target marketing…or used by someone more sinister for spear-phishing. They can also be used to steal your personal information, such as your login credentials or credit card information.
To protect your data privacy, you can…
- Delete cookies regularly: You can delete cookies from your browser settings and history on a regular basis.
- Block cookies: You can block cookies from your browser settings. However, this may prevent you from using some features of your favorite websites.
- Use a privacy-focused browser: There are a number of privacy-focused browsers available, such as Brave and Firefox Focus, which block cookies and other tracking technologies by default.
It is important to note that cookies are not the only way that websites can track your browsing activity. There are other technologies, such as web beacons and tracking pixels, that can also be used for tracking. However, cookies are one of the most common ways that websites track users, so protecting yours will go a long way toward your overall data security.
Cookies aren’t inherently good or bad…they’re just part of the Internet, but a significant part that can be misused by threat actors. Thus it’s important to protect the privacy of your online cookies, just as you do with the rest of your personal information!
Data privacy is a serious issue. To that end, more and more states have been enacting laws that require websites to give you the option to opt out of tracking cookies and selling your information. The more you know about protecting your precious cookies, the better you’ll be able to keep away the real cookie monsters—cybercriminals.