What are cookies?

When we browse through a website the files that store our preferences, choices, and clicks in the browser and also in the server are known as cookies. The browsing sessions and data are stored by the cookies. With permission of the user and as per their web activity, cookies also store passwords, user preferences, and choices.

Cookies are text files or small pieces of data (usernames or passwords) used to identify a particular computer from the computer network. HTTP cookies are specifically used to identify certain users and improve their overall web browsing experience.

While you are connected to a server, it creates data based on the connection that is stored in a cookie. This piece of data has a unique ID labeled to it which is only known to you and your computer.

When the cookie is exchanged between the network server and your computer, the ID is read by the server and serves you with the information you need. This is possible because of the knowledge the server gained post reading the ID after your computer exchanged cookies.

Different types of cookies:

In general, cookies function in the same manner, but they are used in different cases. There are 2 types of cookies, they are:

  • Magic Cookies
  • HTTP Cookies

Magic cookies: It means packets of information that are sent and received without changes. Magic cookies are an old computing term. These are commonly used for logging in to computer database systems, like internal business networks. Magic cookie concept predates the modern-day “cookie” we know.

HTTP cookies: These are revamped versions of magic cookies. HTTP cookies are mainly built for internet browsing. Lou Montulli, a web browser programmer in 1994 created this concept for browsers. He helped an online shopping store fix overloaded servers. Montulli was inspired by magic cookies while recreating this modern cutting-edge concept.

HTTP cookie as what we know today is used to manage and make our online experience seamless. However, hackers and people with malicious intentions use this concept to spy and steal user information by accessing their online activity illegally.

What are cookies used for?

Cookies are used to make our online experience seamless. Without them, we’d have to log in multiple times after we leave a site or again look for the information we gathered if we lose the page or accidentally close it. Therefore, making cookies are an important part of the whole internet experience.

Here are few uses of cookies:

  1. Session Management: For example, cookies allow websites to recognize a user by recalling their past information and preferences, like news related to politics, sports, and entertainment media.
  2. Personalization: Cookies are used to personalize web sessions. The users see certain items or parts of a site through advertisements that are customized as per their past data, this way cookies use data from our past web sessions and customizes ads that may interest us.
  3. Tracking: Cookies are also used by shopping sites to track items or things the user has previously viewed, allowing them to suggest to the user with similar items that they might be interested in buying.