Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not the cookie you were looking for

A cookie is a file saved in the user’s system. Cookies are created when the user accesses a web page; the browser finds it easier to navigate within the site and any information the user may have given while visiting the website, such as email address. Cookies are absolutely necessary for sites having huge databases. The content of a cookie is mainly the URL of the website, the duration of the cookie’s abilities and a random number together called the ID. With such little information that the cookie contains, it is not really possible to reveal any confidential information of the user.


Session and Persistent Cookie
Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. Without a cookie, every time you open a new web page, the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor. The main two categories of cookies are Session and Permanent Cookies. Web pages have no memory.  A user navigating between web pages will be treated by the website as a completely new visitor every time he visits the site. Session cookies enable the website to keep track of page visits so the user is not asked for the same information that’s already available with the site. Persistent cookie files remain in the browser’s sub folder and are activated once again once the user visits the website that created that particular cookie. Persistent cookies help websites remember the user’s information and settings when you visit them in the future. This results in faster and more convenient access. Thus, cookies allow us to proceed trough many pages of a site quickly and easily without having to authenticate or reprocess each new area of visit.


Cookie Profiling
When cookies are collected to create a certain idea about a user, it is called Cookie profiling. The information that people reveal to each site they visit can be used by system administrators to build extensive personal profiles of visitors. By automatically placing a cookie on visitor’s web browsers, servers register data on the cookie. This allows administrators to view the history of site’s users, the advertisements they have viewed and the type of online transactions they have conducted. What is important to note here is that sites can only access cookies from their own domain. While cookies can be useful in some situations, some people see this as invasion of privacy.

Ad-serving using cookies
Third-party ad serving cookies solve a lot of problems that normally arise in a situation where the website’s visitor loads content from the website but the ads come from another site. Cookies help the ad serving website. Cookies limit the number of times an ad is shown. This function comes in particularly handy when dealing with pop up ads. Cookies ensure that a pop up only shows up once per visit. Some ads are more effective when shown in a particular order or sequence. By helping the website you’re viewing remember the pages you’ve visited during your browsing session, cookies enable ads to show up in a particular order. Advertisers need to know how many times their ads were shown on publisher’s websites. Cookies allow the third party ad serving website to collect this information. Cookies allow advertisers to keep track of how many people visited the advertiser’s websites through a click or a response, on the ads shown by third party as serving companies on publisher’s websites. This feature helps both the ad serving company and the advertiser dertermine if a particular advertising campaign produced the desired results.

Drawbacks
Besides privacy concerns, cookies also have some technical drawbacks. They do not always accurately identify users and can be used for security tasks. If more than one browser is used on a computer. Each has a separate storage area for cookies. Hence, cookies do not identify a person, but  a combnation of a user account, a computer and a web browser. Thus, anyone who uses multiple accounts, computers or browsers has multiple sets of cookies.
The use of cookies may generate an incompatibility between the state of the client and the state as stored on the cookie. If the user aquires a cookie and then clicks the ‘back’ button of the browser, the state on the browser is generally not the same as before that acquisition. This can lead to confusion and bugs.


Removing Cookies
Although cookies are very useful to navigate the Internet, you definitely need to know the basics of removing your cookie files so you can protect your privacy online. There are two kinds of cookies-regular text browser cookies and flash cookies. To ensure maximum web browsing privacy, you have to delete both kinds of cookies. Too many Internet users delete cookies which are text-based and leave flash cookies intact. This doesn't protect your privacy. You have to know how to delete flash cookies, too. There is no one standardized way to remove cookies since different browsers clear cookies using different procedures. Here are the steps to disable cookies based on your browser.

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[1] http://www.allaboutcookies.org/
[2] http://www.mediabuzz.com/
[3] http://files.investis.com/
[4] http://www.londonstimes.us/
[5] https://www.youtube.com/
[6] http://www.wikipedia.org/