Glossary keyword - Cookie

Cookie

A cookie is a piece of data transmitted from a website to a user’s browser that is stored on the user’s computer when browsing. The design of cookies is such that they enable a website to remember user preferences. The Information comes in handy especially when it comes to enhancing user experience; like when remembering items a shopper added to their shopping cart on an eCommerce site. Some cookies also help remember a user’s browsing activities on a specific website. For example, logging in, particular buttons clicked, and specific web pages visited. Also, others help keep track of arbitrary bits of information used to fill forms on a website. Usually, these pieces of information are credit card numbers, names, passwords, and addresses.

Uses

Cookies play a significant role in the web of today. Perhaps authentication cookies are the most important of web cookies. They are the most common means by which web servers determine whether a user is logged out or logged in and with which account are they logged in. Absent this procedure; sites couldn’t decide whether to ask for authentication information from a user or send a page with personal information. However, the strength of authentication cookies lies in the user’s web browser settings and security features of the parent website. In addition, the encryption of the cookies data also plays a critical role in authentication and security.

Privacy Concerns of Cookie

In spite of these security measures, hackers can have access to a cookie’s data due to security vulnerabilities. They exploit these vulnerabilities to gain access to user credentials and personal data. On the other hand, hackers can also make use of security vulnerabilities in web cookies to gain illegal access to the issuing websites through cross-site request forgery and cross-site scripting. Furthermore, third-party tracking cookies enable websites to compile data on the long-term browsing history of users. 

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