What are cookies
A cookie (web cookie, or browser cookie) is a small file which is stored on your computer when you visit a website. These files are used by the website for a number of things but mainly to track or trace where you have been on the website and what you are searching for. In some cases cookies also assist in any interaction between you and the website, for example when using social media such as facebook and twitter.
For a more details read more about cookies on Wikipedia.
Types of Cookie
Cookies are small files that allow a website to recognise and track users. The ICO groups them into three overlapping groups:
Files that allow a site to link the actions of a visitor during a single browser session. These might be used by an internet bank or webmail service. They are not stored long term and are considered “less privacy intrusive” than persistent cookies.
These remain on the user’s device between sessions and allow one or several sites to remember details about the visitor. They may be used by marketers to target advertising or to avoid the user having to provide a password each visit.
First and third-party cookies
A cookie is classed as being first-party if it is set by the site being visited. It might be used to study how people navigate a site.
It is classed as third-party if it is issued by a different server to that of the domain being visited. It could be used to trigger a banner advert based on the visitor’s viewing habits.
Standard uses for browser cookies
Website servers set cookies to help authenticate the user if the user logs in to a secure area of the website. Login information is stored in a cookie so the user can enter and leave the website without having to re-enter the same authentication information over and over.
Session Cookies are also used by the server to store information about user page activities so users can easily pick up where they left off on the server’s pages. By default, web pages really don’t have any ‘memory’. Cookies tell the server what pages to show the user so the user doesn’t have to remember or start navigating the site all over again. Cookies act as a sort of “bookmark” within the site. Similarly, cookies can store ordering information needed to make shopping carts work instead of forcing the user to remember all the items the user put in the shopping cart.
Persistent or tracking Cookies are also employed to store user preferences. Many websites allow the user to customize how information is presented through site layouts or themes. These changes make the site easier to navigate and/or lets user leave a part of the user’s “personality” at the site.
Cookie security and privacy issues
Cookies are NOT viruses. Cookies use a plain text format. They are not compiled pieces of code so they cannot be executed nor are they self-executing. Accordingly, they cannot make copies of themselves and spread to other networks to execute and replicate again. Since they cannot perform these functions, they fall outside the standard virus definition.
Cookies CAN be used for malicious purposes though. Since they store information about a user’s browsing preferences and history, both on a specific site and browsing among several sites, cookies can be used to act as a form of spyware. Many anti-spyware products are well aware of this problem and routinely flag cookies as candidates for deletion after standard virus and/or spyware scans.
Most browsers have built in privacy settings that provide differing levels of cookie acceptance, expiration time, and disposal after a user has visited a particular site. Backing up your computer can give you the peace of mind that your files are safe.
Our website has been created using Worpress.
- Registered members need a cookie to be able to log in. This is ‘strictly necessary’ as WordPress won’t work without it.
- Visitors who leave a comment on a blog post will also have a cookie set on their computer. This is a user preference.
Many WordPress website owners including ourselves also use Google Analytics to track how their website is used.
We use some third party cookies to provide information to and from social media. For instance we need to allow Twitter.com to set cookies so that we can display our Twitter feed on our webiste.
If you do not wish to allow our cookies on your computer, please do not use this site. Cookies are not malicious.