Cookies: What are they?

Cookies: What are they?

If you regularly use the Internet, then you have probably come across the word “cookies” (cookies, “cookies”). Cookies are needed so that sites can recognize you if you are registered on the site and remember the choices you made, for example, how many forum posts you prefer to view on the page, or the design style you have chosen.

So let’s take a closer look at what cookies are. After your browser has received a web page from the site, the connection between the site and your computer is disconnected. Every time you decide to view a different page, or check for updates on the first one, a new connection is established. A website can be viewed by many different users at the same time, therefore, in order to form a page in accordance with the preferences of a particular visitor, the site server needs to distinguish who the request came from. This can be done by the Internet IP address, but it can change, and some users, especially in organizations, use proxy servers, which means that several computers can have the same address. Therefore, cookies are needed.

Cookies are text records in which the names of some variables are associated with values ​​(text or numeric). Every time a website sends a page to your browser, it also sends a cookie to it. And when the browser requests a page from a site, it forwards the cookies it received from this site last time. According to the instructions of the site, cookies can be deleted automatically when you close your web browser or remain on your computer until the date specified by the site. You can also prohibit the acceptance of cookies in the settings of web browsing programs (then you will have difficulties with authorization on the sites) or store them after completion of work. In addition, in most web browsers it is possible to delete all accumulated cookies at the request of the user.

Cookies are stored separately by each browser, that is, if you switch to Mozilla Firefox from Internet Explorer, the site will not recognize you. Cookies are also stored separately for each user on the computer.

Cookies have no way of launching a virus or Trojan horse on your computer. A problem may occur due to an error of the site programmers, and then the site will incorrectly form pages based on your cookies. This is treated by deleting the cookies of this site from your browser. But since the user is usually too lazy to figure out where the cookies are, most often all permanent cookies are deleted.

Embedded advertising banners from web pages that you have visited can sometimes leave their cookies on your computer. This is called “third party cookies”. With their help, banner exchange networks can compile a list of sites visited by a specific user and show him ads, focusing on his preferences. Usually browsers allow you to separately disable third-party cookies.

If an attacker intercepts the information you transmit to the site, he can spy on your cookies. This gives him the opportunity to enter the website using your personal data, and make trouble to the extent of his spoilage and the capabilities of the site. This danger is especially great if you use unsecured Wi-Fi. To avoid such attacks, websites dealing with money use a secure connection that encrypts the data in transit. When switching to a secure connection, the browser usually notifies the user about it.

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