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What Are Cookies in Web Browsers?

Cookies, more appropriately called HTTP cookies, is a small piece of data stored as a text file on the browser. Websites use small bits of that data to track users and enable user-specific features.

By Neo NatsuPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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What Are Cookies in Web Browsers?
Photo by Vyshnavi Bisani on Unsplash

Websites record information in the form of cookies on your computer. Cookies contain only text and no other information.

Text may be a user ID, a session ID, or anything else. For instance, a web page can be designed to provide a link that conceals particular page elements. This page can use cookies to save your preferences on your computer. When the page is reloaded, it can check for cookies and automatically hide components.

If you erase cookies, you will be logged out of all websites, and the websites will not remember any of your custom preferences.

Today, you may have hundreds or even thousands of cookies saved in your web browser. 

Browser Cookies History

Cookies were created by Lou Montulli, an employee of Netscape Communications, in 1994. Together with John Giannandrea, Lou created cookies as a means of enabling online shopping carts.

The actual web-based cookies program is used to determine whether or not Netscape website visitors already exist. Initially, all compatible browsers accept cookies by default, and few end users are aware of their presence or purpose. In February 1996, the Financial Times published an article describing its existence, purpose, and application.

Due to the inherent privacy hazards of visitor monitoring, the media will be closely monitored over the next few years. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was given the responsibility of drafting formal cookie specifications in response to media concerns.

Particularly alarming are the dangers linked to third-party cookies.

These are sometimes referred to as "tracking cookies." The IETF intends to urge that third-party cookies be expressly disallowed or permitted only if the user opts in. However, key browser makers at the time, Netscape and Microsoft, disregarded IETF recommendations and gave in to the wishes of online advertising by permitting third-party tracking cookies.

The present cookie definition acknowledges the usage of third-party cookies and the inherent dangers associated with their use, but ultimately places the duty of resolving these risks on browser developers. This document allows user agents (browsers) wide leeway to experiment with third-party cookie policies that balance their users' privacy and compatibility demands. 

How Browser Cookies Function 

Cookies are stored and managed by your web browser. In your browser settings, you can see a list of websites that store cookies and read the cookies themselves, but it is typically not interesting to view the content of cookies.

On a machine with many web browsers, each browser has its own cookies. Websites are only permitted to view their own cookies; thus, if you visit the Technology Monitor website, administrators cannot view cookies from other websites.

This is to prevent bad websites from eavesdropping on your login sessions and stealing them. 

Advantages of Cookies 

  • Assist the site in "remembering" who we are and configuring our preferences accordingly. so that, upon returning to the website, the user is immediately recognized. 
  • Cookies reduce the need to re-register on websites you frequent and re-access. Cookies are particularly beneficial on sites that need registration, as they create a user login automatically each time we log in, eliminating the need to enter the username and password. 
  • It takes up little memory, does not require server resources, and is stored on the user's machine, resulting in no additional server strain. 
  • We can configure cookies to expire when session cookies do, or they can exist for a specified time on the client's computer (persistent cookies). 
  • State Sessions last longer than cookies. 

Lack of Cookies

  • Cookies are less secure than text-based information because certain individuals may be able to access and modify their cookie settings. 
  • Cookies will not function if the browser's security level is set to high. 
  • Users can erase cookies. 
  • The user's browser may refuse cookies; therefore, your code must account for this possibility. Complex data types are not permitted (e.g., datasets, etc.). This only supports plain text (cookies, i.e., only allow string content). 
  • Reduce the rate at which the web server loads the website. This is a result of the addition of JavaScript scripts and external links to the website. It will automatically slow the loading of the website. 

Conclusion 

The Cookies on Your Web Browser Cookies, or HTTP cookies, are little pieces of data that are kept in a text file on the browser. Small amounts of this information are used by websites to follow users and allow user-specific functionality.

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About the Creator

Neo Natsu

"One arrow alone can be easily broken but many arrows are indestructible" ~Genghis Khan~

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