A cookie is a small text file that is stored on your computer or other internet-connected device in order to identify your browser, provide analytics, remember information about you such as your language preference or login information. They're completely safe and can't be used to run programs or deliver viruses to your device.
Cookies are designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular client and website and can be accessed either by the web server or the client computer. This allows the server to deliver a page tailored to a particular user, or the page itself can contain some script that is aware of the data in the cookie and so is able to carry information from one visit to the website (or related site) to the next.
Why are Cookies Used?
Cookies are a convenient way to carry information from one session on a website to another, or between sessions on related websites, without having to burden a server machine with massive amounts of data storage. Storing the data on the server without using cookies would also be problematic because it would be difficult to retrieve a particular user's information without requiring a login on each visit to the website.
If there is a large amount of information to store, then a cookie can simply be used as a means to identify a given user so that further related information can be looked up on a server-side database. For example the first time a user visits a site they may choose a username which is stored in the cookie, and then provide data such as password, name, address, preferred font size, page layout, etc. - this information would all be stored on the database using the username as a key. Subsequently when the site is revisited the server will read the cookie to find the username, and then retrieve all the user's information from the database without it having to be re-entered.
How to block cookies?
If you don't want sites to store cookies on your computer, you can block them. But blocking cookies is not recommended because it might prevent some pages from displaying correctly, or you might get a message from a site letting you know that you need to allow cookies to view that site. You can block cookies by simply going to your browser's settings and then turning off the cookies.
People use third-party cookies for various purposes:
- To facilitate the operation and functionality of a website
- To improve user experience and make navigating quicker and easier
- To allow the website's owner to make a bespoke user experience for the user and for the owner to understand what is useful or of interest to the user
- To analyze how a website is used and how best they can customize it
- To identify future prospects and personalize marketing and sales interactions with it
- To facilitate the tailoring of online advertising to the user's interests
Type of Cookies
Cookies can either be session cookies or persistent cookies. A session cookie expires automatically when you close your browser. A persistent cookie will remain until it expires or you delete your cookies. Expiration dates are set in the cookies themselves; some may expire after a few minutes while others may expire after multiple years. Cookies placed by the website you’re visiting are called “first party cookies”.
Strictly Necessary cookies are necessary for a website to function and cannot be switched off. They are essential in order to enable you to navigate around a website and use its features. If you remove or disable these cookies, we cannot guarantee that you will be completely able to use some websites.
The most common types of cookies are the following:
These cookies are strictly necessary to enable core functionality such as security, network management, your cookie preferences, and accessibility. Without them, you wouldn't be able to use basic website services. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.
Performance and Functionality Cookies
These cookies are used to enhance the performance and functionality of a website but are non-essential to their use. However, without these cookies, certain functionality like videos may become unavailable or you would be required to enter your login details every time you visit a website as they would not be able to remember that you had logged in previously.
These account-based marketing cookies enable people to identify future prospects and personalize sales and marketing interactions with them.
Analytics and Customization Cookies
These cookies collect information that is used to help understand how a website is being used or how effective marketing campaigns are, or to help customize a website for users.
Cookies served by Google Analytics collect limited data directly from end-user browsers to enable people to better understand your use of a website. Further information on how Google collects and uses this data can be found at: https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/partners/. You can opt-out of all Google supported analytics on a website by visiting: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout.
These cookies collect information over time about your online activity on a website and other online services to make online advertisements more relevant and effective to you. This is known as interest-based advertising. They also perform functions like preventing the same ad from continuously reappearing and ensuring that ads are properly displayed for advertisers. Without cookies, it’s really hard for an advertiser to reach its audience, or to know how many ads were shown and how many clicks they received.
Social Media Cookies
These cookies are used when you share information using a social media sharing button or “like” button on our Site or you link your account or engage with our content on or through a social networking website such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+. The social network will record that you have done this. These cookies may also include certain code that has been placed on the platform to help track conversions from ads, optimize ads based on collected data, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to qualified users who have already taken certain action on the platform.
Some cookies that have been set on a website are not set on a first-party basis. a website can be embedded with content from third parties to serve advertising. These third-party service providers may set their own cookies on your web browser. Third-party service providers control many of the performance and functionality, advertising, marketing and analytics cookies described above.
How you can manage cookies?
Most browsers allow you to control cookies through their 'settings' preferences. However, if you limit the ability of websites to set cookies, you may worsen your overall user experience, since it will no longer be personalized to you. It may also stop you from saving customized settings like login information. Browser manufacturers provide help pages relating to cookie management in their products.