You must have noticed the “Cookie consent” banners that appear on most websites you visit. So what exactly is a cookie, and what are you consenting to?
Cookies are small files that contain data like a username or account number. They are used to help the website identify your device. So, if we take an example of the account number, the website will remember who you are next time you visit. You will find web development firms like Tentacle Solutions using cookies to improve the user’s web browsing experience.
When a cookie is created, the website will label it with unique id and store the data relevant for that operation. When that cookie is exchanged between your computer and Tentacle’s cloud server, the ID and data is read to ensure the website knows what information to serve to you.
A typical usage for cookies by Tentacle’s Glasgow-based developers is to store the user’s login information. It usually happens when the user ticks the “remember me” checkbox, which will cause the site to create a cookie that will store the login details for that user but is encrypted.
The benefits of using cookies are:
Session Management - help the website remember pertinent data regarding the user
Personalisation - allow the user to have a more unique and customised experience
Tracking - for instance, Google Analytics
There are two different types of HTTP Cookies:
Session cookies: Are used while you are navigating the website in real-time. Typically once you leave that website, your session cookies are gone.
Persistent cookies: these remain on a computer indefinitely, although, many include expiration dates and are automatically removed when that date approaches.
Since the data in cookies doesn't change, cookies themselves aren't harmful. They can't infect computers with viruses or other malware. However, some cyberattacks can hijack cookies and enable access to your browsing sessions.