04 February 2020
Chocolate chip cookies in a stack of 3 on bench

Today’s blog post discusses a term which we’re sure you’ve heard a lot of in your time as an internet user, “cookies”. 

How do cookies work?

To differentiate cookies from potential online threats, they are explained by cybersecurity specialists at Kaspersky as “files that contain small pieces of data — like a username and password — that are exchanged between a user's computer and a web server to identify specific users and improve their browsing experience.”

Before you get too far into this post, we want to be clear that cookies aren’t used to cause harm, or spread viruses, they are primarily there to autofill information and streamline online activity. 

The team at Kaspersky explain that the danger lies in their ability to track an individuals’ browsing history but also reminds users that “Removing normal cookies is easy, but it could make certain web sites harder to navigate.” 

Session/Persistent cookies

According to Kaspersky, there are two types of cookies; “session” and “persistent” cookies. Session cookies are used when navigating a website, such as an ecommerce platform or other website that stores user information for the duration of a particular session, to make the overall browsing experience more convenient for the user.

Persistent cookies, on the other hand, are primarily used for authentication (ie storing of user credentials) or tracking purposes (ie building a user profile based on past website visits).  

An example of an everyday brand that we know and love that uses cookies is woolworths.com.au. Woolworths state in their Cookies Statement that their use of cookies is “to assist in compiling and analysing the types of online content you visit and your interaction with that content”, which makes perfect sense for the shopping giant - who want your shopping experience to be as relevant to you as they can possibly make it.

Third party cookies

Have you ever noticed how even on a different website or platform, your past behaviours are somehow following you? This is most often due to third party cookies, enabled through a third party advertiser by providing a link to their product on another website or platform.

In recent news, Google plans to join other browsers and says they will be phasing out third party cookies in Chrome by 2022. If you are interested in learning more in the meantime, reach into the jar (your browser settings) and see what you can find out!

Have a question or some feedback? Get in touch today at blog@afilias.com.au