What is a Cookie?

A browser cookie is a text file describing a small piece of information about a visitor or the visitor’s computer. There are two types of cookies: A first party cookie is set by the domain being visited and a third party cookie is set by sites other than the site being visited.

Types of Cookies

1. Session: A cookie that only exist while the visitor is on a website. When the visitor leaves, the cookie is immediately deleted.

2. Persistent: A cookie that will last for a specified period of time, regardless of the length of a user session.

3. Secure: When a browser is accessing a server via HTTPS a secure cookie is used to encrypt sensitive data.

Cookie Uses

  • Tracking cookies can monitor a user’s browsing history as they navigate between websites.
  • Cookies can also be used for session management, which is common on ecommerce websites where visitors store items in a shopping cart.
  • Some cookies are used for personalization, so upon return a visitor will have a customized experience based on past preferences.
  • Decreases costs by improving efficiency of interaction with customers.

Privacy Concerns

For many years privacy advocates have admonished the used of third party tracking cookies that are used by advertising companies. Many web users consider their browsing history to be confidential information that they don’t wish to share. A clear privacy policy that discloses the use of cookies can prevent privacy related controversy.

Cookie Resources

The Unofficial Cookie FAQ

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