When you think of cookies, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it of the chocolate chip variety?

But these “cookies” aren’t edible … They live in your computer, helping make your Internet browsing more convenient for you.

What are cookies?

When you visit a website, the site may send information to your web browser to recognize your device in the future. That information, or browser cookie, remembers you when you return to a website, keeping track of your digital footprint.

Some of its uses include:

  • Collecting information about page views and online activities.
  • Recognizing you by remembering your user information, offering an online shopping cart, or keeping track of your website preferences if you return.
  • Customizing your experience as you browse online.
  • Delivering personalized and customized advertisement targeted to you.

There are two general types of cookies: Single-session and multi-session.

  • Single-session cookies: This help navigating a website. They temporarily record information and are deleted once a user closes the browser or leaves the website.
  • Multi-session cookies: These cookies stay on your computer and record information each time you go to a website. Unless you manually delete them or they expire, the cookies are on your hard drive.

Are cookies safe?

First-party data within a cookie doesn’t change, making them safe for your computer. They don’t affect the performance of your computer or transfer viruses or malware.

But there are also third-party tracking cookies that allow advertisers and analytics companies to track a user on a site with their ads. Here is an example of a third-party cookie. Let’s say earlier in the week you looked up some vacation rentals in Cancun. You browsed a few websites, admired the photos of the sunsets and sandy beaches, but ultimately decided to wait another year before planning your vacation. A few days go by and suddenly it seems like you are seeing ads for Cancun vacations on many of the websites you visit. Is it a mere coincidence? Not really. The reason you are now seeing these ads on vacationing in Cancun is that your web browser stored a third-party cookie and is using this information to send you targeted advertisements.

You’re unintentionally creating a “trail of crumbs.” Most web users don’t realize that a browser window with multiple tabs open constitutes a single “session.” As you move from tab to tab, you are unwittingly relaying information about your web visit history to other websites and parties. And closing the web browser doesn’t always eliminate the cookies your computer stores following the session. Depending on the browser you use, you may have to activate this manually.

However, some cookies can be disguised as viruses or malware. According to Norton, many browsers can block “super-cookies” that can pose potential security concerns. Other cookies that pose issues are “zombie cookies.” A “zombie cookie” once deleted will re-appear, making it impossible to manage.

Where to enable or delete cookies

To protect your privacy online, you can manage your cookies by:

  • Opening your browser. Cookies are stored on your web browser. These include Mozilla Firefox®, Google Chrome®, Microsoft Edge®, and Safari®.
  • Finding where cookies are stored. Each browser manages cookies differently. For instance, in Microsoft Edge, select the menu (the three dots in the top right corner of the browser), and go to Settings. From there, click on Site Permissions and look for Cookies and site data.
  • Managing your cookies. In the browser’s settings, you can enable or disable cookies. Keep in mind that banning browser cookies on websites may make them difficult to use. However, you can control third-party and tracking cookies to protect your privacy while still surfing the web.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Adirondack Bank. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Adirondack Bank is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the information provided or the content of any third-party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Adirondack Bank makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Sources: https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/cookies; https://www.ftc.gov/policy-notices/privacy-policy/internet-cookies; https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-privacy-what-are-cookies.html