It's likely that you've noticed a "Privacy and Cookie Policies" popup at the top or bottom of a web page while browsing the internet. You may even be mindlessly "Accepting" or "Declining" to give or deny the site permission to track your cookies without even thinking of the consequences. However, choosing to accept or decline a website's cookies does impact your browsing experience and what information you're sharing with the site.
What are cookies?
According to our partners at Symantec, a cookie is "a term for a packet of data that a computer receives, then sends back without changing or altering it". It's also commonly referred to as an HTTP cookie, a web cookie, an Internet cookie, or a browser cookie. When you visit a website, the computer stores the cookie in your web browser. This helps the website track information about how you use it, including pages you visit, what you download, and links that you click. It can be used to collect Marketing data, improve the usability of the website, and they can even be crucial to using the site properly (we'll get to that later).
Accepting and Declining Cookies
Accepting cookies will give you the best user experience on the website, while declining cookies could potentially interfere with your use of the site. For example, online shopping. Cookies enable the site to keep track of all of the items that you've placed in your cart while you continue to browse. If you've disabled cookies on your browser while online shopping, every time you clicked a new link, the items in your shopping cart would disappear! This would make online shopping virtually impossible and browsing the site completely impractical. This is one example of cookies being a necessity on certain sites. Some users like accepting cookies for the sole purpose of saving your username and password logins for certain websites.
If you don't recall accepting cookies for a specific website, it could be because you haven't! Some web browsers have settings to automatically accept cookies, and you can change these settings to automatically prompt you to accept or decline automatically, or to automatically decline. At Eze Castle, our browsers automatically prompt you to either accept or decline cookies automatically, letting the end-user make the decision.
When it comes to accepting or declining cookies, security should always be considered. Though it is important to note - cookies are sent back and forth from the website to your computer without the data being altered, so the cookies themselves are unable to transfer viruses or malware. However, supercookies, or code that's inserted to an HTTP header, can cause concern for security. This type of cookie is able to uniquely identify a device to the website, and with the connection, unfortunately the user isn't able to clear the cookie. To get around this, you can use an encrypted connection through HTTPS or access your internet through a VPN, which will ensure that you and your firm aren't vulnerable to supercookies.
To figure out if cookies are enabled in your web browser, to see what cookies you have on your computer, and for information on how to enable or disable cookies as well as deleting and clearing cookies, click here.