TIP: What you should know about "cookies"!

What are cookies?

What you should know about "cookies"! Well, I'm not talking about the little sweet temptations (biscuits / sweets) but about the little data that helps the website operators to get to know them better online and to follow their activities on the internet.

"Cookies" make your Internet experience "personal"

What you should know about cookies
What you should know about cookies!

With "Cookies" not only the last visit to a website, but also the respected articles or products are stored. Every time the website is called up, the last data about your behavior is immediately available, and websites therefore immediately show you things and articles that might interest you. This is comfortable and also ensures a good experience when using the pages. On the other hand, many Internet users also feel spied on or monitored by this type of "individualization". For many, this type of customer retention is too intimate and violates their privacy. Some even think that cookies are "harmful". This is primarily you but only if a lot of sugar is inside, and then it depends on the amount of 🙂 But the online cookies are actually no danger to your own device. But let us consider where the other doubts come from and what the facts are.

VPNProviders promise to protect privacy, that's true.

But some things in daily Internet activities can affect privacy, even if you have one VPNService used. This includes cookies. Therefore, it is important that you have a basic knowledge of it and so far as you want and as little as possible can get involved. Or not.

In this post about cookies I report:

  • An introduction to what cookies are
  • Dier various uses of cookies
  • How cookies can affect security or privacy
  • How to control the use of cookies.

Statement on "Tracking Cookies"

Browser cookies, tracking cookies or just cookies are small text files that are stored locally on your device while you open an internet page. The main use of cookies is to "personalize" websites, ie to display individual content. Visitors are uniquely identified and the idea behind them is that visitors value when they directly see content and products that match their own interests. Have you ever searched something on Google or on Amazon and suddenly noticed that after that appear online on this or other websites try to directly sell the previously sought after items? That's because of cookies. Some people think that's good, others do not. On the one hand you get ads that match the interests and sometimes a special discount that nobody else would receive now. On the other hand, there is of course a strange feeling that foreign companies can know about their own preferences so exactly. But everyone has to decide for himself whether he thinks it's good or bad.

So you might wonder where cookies come from? Thats is quite easy.

When you visit a page for the first time, usually every website that exists on the internet. We generated a small text file from the browser, which saves when the page was opened. If you return to this page again another time, then your own browser sends this small text file directly to the website when it is called up. This can therefore recognize that it is the second visit and accordingly therefore also designed content z.Bsp. on the home page or on product overlays.

But there are also so-called: "Third party cookies", ie cookies that come from a source other than the displayed website, Mozilla describes this quite well:

"Third party cookies are cookies created by a website other than the ones you have just opened. As an example: The website example.com has a Facebook "like" button built in. This Facebook integration automatically generates a cookie from facebook.com, even though you are not actually on this page. This is a "third party cookie"!

In the example mentioned, this also means that Facebook learns through which page you have visited and also what has interested you there. The users are not advised that this data has now been made available to Facebook!

Blocking the "third party cookies" means that the web browser will then only accept cookies from the domain (URL) of the page visited. Luckily, it's very easy to block these cookies in any browser. If you have blocked these cookies, then often advertisements that are displayed by other sources on the web pages are no longer personalized or sometimes even no longer be displayed.

Here is a tutorial on how to block the cookies of foreign websites in the browsers:

Block third party cookies
Block third party cookies

Various uses of cookies

Authentication / Registration

If you are logged in to a website, ie in the secure area with username and password, then this information is also stored in a cookie, so you do not have to log in again when visiting the website repeatedly, but the website assumes that you by the visitor has stored this information in his cookie, is also entitled to visit the website in his name. This is comfortable but also carries a certain risk. Therefore, the identification and credentials of the websites are often stored encrypted in the cookie.

Remember last visited page

The function that the website can recognize via the stored cookie, which page was called last helps, for example, even with more expensive pages quickly back to the last point. This same functionality is also known to Netflix or YouTube, if you can return to the last seen point after the premature termination of a video. This is a very comfortable option created by cookies.

save settings

Many websites can also be customized in appearance. Often settings are stored in cookies, which make it possible to use the page each time you visit with the previously made settings. These cookies also stores interests or other facts about you. In these cookies, Amazon not only stores the most recently viewed products and categories, but also how often you visit them. From this it is possible to gather good predictions for the interests and propose corresponding products through the use of these cookies.

Frequently asked questions about cookies

What can be done against tracking cookies?

As already described, these cookies are often stored from outside the website and should give companies such as Google, Yahoo etc. more information about the habits and interests of the users. In the case of Google and Facebook, these "tracking cookies" are built into millions of websites and allow statistics for the website operators, but also an even more accurate analysis of users and their preferences. It therefore makes perfect sense to prevent these cookies as far as possible. As a rule, there are no disadvantages for the user due to the blocking. I recommend the free browser extensions from "Ghostery", This tool can be tracking cookies but also block advertising cookies individually. You can also allow individual cookies on individual websites. But by and large, you can use it to block 99% of all tracking cookies when you visit the web pages and thus regain a good deal of security and privacy.

Can cookies endanger your own privacy?

If you are worried about the protection of your privacy, then I recommend that you use your browser in "incognito mode". Third-party cookies are usually blocked automatically and after exiting the browser all existing and created cookies are deleted. This is the best compromise on the one hand to use cookies, because without many websites today no longer work properly and on the other hand, no personal data permanently stored. This helps to protect your privacy, as it dramatically reduces the risk of exposing too much of your own data to others.

How do cookies affect your own security?

Some people believe that cookies can also be harmful (malware), but that's not true. It's just plain "text files" that have no executable content. In addition, cookies are first stored by the browser and also read by this, so not how you might possibly erroneously assume that they are stored by the website directly on your own computer! It is completely safe to use cookie. But cookies can be very well used to spy on people, which is why some security software can also view cookies as a risk to data security. It always depends on how much data is stored in the cookies, and whether it can also be used to deceive or hack users.

Is it possible to dispense with the use of cookies?

This is no longer possible today, most websites use these small text files to make the user's life easier. In many cases, for example on shopping pages, the goods you put into your shopping cart are also stored in your own cookies You practically can not make an order if you would not allow cookies in general.

Delete cookies from the browser
Delete cookies from the browser

Attention to cookies WITHOUT encryption

But there is a risk of using and sending cookies over unencrypted data connections. (Websites without https or without VPN). Since the information is usually stored in plain text in the cookies, they are thus unprotected and also transmitted to third parties in a catchable manner. These may contain access data as well as other personal information. Especially on public Wi-Fi hotspots but also at home, this information may be accessible to others!

Encrypted connections are unprotected by proxy servers.

Even if you use a proxy, it can even be removed from encrypted connections and therefore unauthorized to others. Therefore, I would like to warn again against using free or free proxy services!

Sometimes the use of one VPNServices are not enough!

My tip for handling cookies is therefore:

  • Block cookies that are not from the website in general (third party cookies)
  • Always use your browser in incognito mode and delete all new cookies that are created after each use.
  • Maybe use a different search engine instead of Google like cookies DuckDuckGo
  • Use one Tracking blocker like "Ghostery" to protect you from unwanted codes on websites!

Created on:03/04/2016

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