Computer Cookies: Tasty or Not?

It is 6 P.M. and you are just about to start dinner. You take inventory of what is left of your weekly groceries and have no idea what to make with a sweet potato and half a chicken breast. So, obviously, you pull out your phone in search of the perfect (or any) recipe in which you can somehow use these ingredients together. And after what feels like endless searching finally!

You found the one.

You open the recipe and the first thing that pops up is, “We use cookies: Accept or edit preferences”.

You wonder why this site is giving you free cookies when you wanted to find a chicken and sweet potato recipe, then quickly realize that is not at all what this small pop-up is insinuating.

So, what is a “cookie” and what does it do?

Cookies have more than one purpose.

Sites use cookies to record information about you, such as where you were, what content you consumed, and your login info. This helps to tailor content for you or save where you were upon return to the site. It is essential so you don’t have to reintroduce yourself every time you visit the site. Cookies can also be used to track your browsing across multiple sites and to serve ads that should resonate with your interests.

Are cookies safe?

The man behind the invention of the cookie, Lou Montulli, created cookies for an e-commerce site in the 90s to help sort and store purchased items in a shopping cart. Pretty simple and safe, right?

Ehhh… sort of. It depends.

There are a lot of different kinds of cookies, and it can be difficult to differentiate one from another.

  • Session Cookies- Not saved, when the browser is closed, these cookies are deleted.
  • Third-Party Cookies- Cookies added to your device through third-party advertisers that are not actually associated with the website you are on. They don’t always require you to accept cookie preferences to be put on your device.
  • First-Party Cookies- These cookies are put on your device by the site you are on.
  • Preference Cookies- Helps websites to recall information that you have put into the site: passwords, usernames, emails, phone numbers, etc…
  • Statistic Cookies- Basically report information on how you utilized a site. Usually does not track the identity of the user.
  • Persistent Cookies- These cookies stay on your device until they are manually deleted. The cookies do have expiration dates but it really all depends on what the site that places the cookie chooses.

Cookies are annoying. Are there other options?

One frustrating workaround can be to simply ignore these pop-ups. Most sites will allow you to continue to browse without accepting their cookies, but there are plenty that will not. Many sites will allow you to accept only “necessary” cookies (though this is seldom the default option), and some browsers automatically block trackers and third-party cookies. Ultimately, it is up to you if you decide to trust the pop-up and accept the cookies or leave the site altogether. If you want some of our tips on dealing with pop-ups, check out our pop-up blog.

If you are worried about keeping your devices in your business safe, check out our Cyber Security options here or reach out to us directly and get more information here.

Less time on tech. More time on your business.