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  • Sanskriti Sinha

Data-Chip Cookies

"Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the internet."

Gary Kovacs

You log on to the internet, you open a website and there pops up the question, "Do you accept the cookies of this site or not?" Have you ever experienced that before? Almost every internet user would answer yes to that question because a majority of the internet uses cookies. Unfortunately, several of us are not aware of what these 'cookies' are. Habitually, when we think of cookies we think of those wonderful chocolate chip cookies we dip into milk and have a jolly good time eating. These cookies are quite different from that; these cookies are data chip cookies.


Web Cookies, more correctly known as 'HTTP Cookies', are essentially data packages tagged to your internet identity. When you visit a website, its server sends you a cookie that contains a unique identification for your computer. The cookie is stored in your browser and is used by the website to track you. Although those words might make alarms go off in your head, cookies are not always a bad thing. For instance, retailers use it to maintain your shopping cart. If cookies were not used, the website would not remember what you had added to your cart. Another example is a website that requires you to log in. If they did not use cookies, every time you clicked on a link you would have to log in again. There would be no "keep me signed in" option available as the website would forget you instantly.


Types of cookies:

1. The good kind. Since the data in a cookie never changes, it is usually very safe.

a. Session cookies: These cookies are stored on a random access memory, meaning they are not present on a hard drive. These cookies are meant to assist in navigation while you are actively present on the site and are automatically deleted as soon as you leave.

b. Persistent cookies are of two subtypes.

i. Authentication: These cookies are meant to check whether a user is logged in and with what identity. They also store login information as evidenced on social media sites such as Facebook.

ii. Tracking: These cookies are responsible for noting the habits of the user whenever they log in to the site. Have you ever wondered how Amazon knew exactly what you were looking for? The answer is tracking cookies, they know everything you ever liked and can suggest everything you could ever want.

c. First-party cookies, which are the cookies directly from the site you are on, are usually quite safe as long as they are by a reputable and non-problematic site.


2. The bad kind. Lamentably, even the web has a few rotten raisin cookies.

a. Third-party cookies can be concerning. These cookies come from websites that have no sincere relationship with the website you are on. The reason these can be a tad worrying is that they can watch your surfing all across the web and use it to target you when advertising.

b. Supercookies can be terrifying as they are much more intruding than traditional cookies. These cookies not only have access to the aforementioned important data but can also learn your internet habits such as which websites you visit and when. Furthermore, it can be difficult to detect if a supercookie parasite has latched onto you. Even if you do find out, it can still be incredibly tough to get rid of it. Simply leaving the website or deleting the cache of the web browser will prove to be futile because of the added HTTP header in the cookie. Moreover, ad-blocking software does not do the job either; which is how third-party companies can get your sensitive information to target you. The only method to get rid of such a supervillain is to use an encrypted connection or a virtual private network, more commonly known as a VPN.

c. Zombie cookies, as their name suggests, are quite disturbing. A walking dead cookie is permanently downloaded onto the laptop without your consent and regenerates when deleted. These are created from certain data stored in Adobe Flash Player which is why these cookies are also known as flash cookies. Such cookies are used to track your personal information for marketing purposes. They can also be used to ban certain users.


To answer the original question: it depends on your personal preferences. If you wish for convenient and personalized internet surfing then you should accept cookies. If you wish to eradicate any possible risk of your privacy being breached then you should not permit cookies. Ordinarily, you can go to "Settings" or "Preferences", select "Privacy" and choose to "Block Cookies". Otherwise, you can simply toggle off the cookies from your website when it asks for permission. Notwithstanding, it is not possible to switch off all cookies as some cookies are necessary for the proper functioning of the website.


As illustrated by the aforementioned, the internet can be quite a confusing world. Sometimes, the technical terms can be quite hard to understand as they are not exactly common knowledge. Therefore, being well-informed of such terms helps us better navigate the internet and consequently use it better.


Bibliography:

1. Kaspersky. "What are Cookies?" www.kaspersky.com. 13 Jan. 2021. Web. 6 Dec. 2021. <https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/cookies>

2. N.a. "What are cookies?." Us.norton.com. 4 Dec. 2021. Web. 6 Dec. 2021. <https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-privacy-what-are-cookies.html>

3. N.a. "How cookies can track you (Simply Explained) - YouTube." Youtube.com. n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2021. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWw7Wd2gUJk>

4. Madelyn Bacon. "What is a supercookie? - Definition from WhatIs.com." SearchSecurity. 5 Dec. 2021. Web. 6 Dec. 2021 <https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/supercookie>

5. Contributors. "What is a Zombie Cookie? - Definition from Techopedia." Techopedia.com. n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2021. <http://www.techopedia.com/definition/25736/zombie-cookie>

6. VPN.Express. "25 Quotes That Will Make You Value Internet Privacy | VPN.Express." VPN.Express. 21 Feb. 2018. Web. 6 Dec. 2021. <https://blog.vpn.express/25-quotes-internet-privacy.html>



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