A Cookie, or web cookie, is a small data file used by computers to track website communications and sessions. When you visit a website, it sends a cookie to your device, storing it within your web browser. These cookies can help keep track of a user’s shopping cart items. Without such cookies, your shopping cart would reset to zero every time you clicked a new link on the site. There are other types of cookies that keep track of different activities. “Session cookies” are used only when a person is actively navigating a website; once you leave the site, the session cookie disappears. “Tracking Cookies” are used to create long-term records of multiple visits to the same site. “Authentication cookies” track whether a user is logged in, and if so, under what name. 

Source: Norton

Additional Reading: What Are Cookies and Why Are They Important

Related Terms: Password, Password Manager

What does this mean for your SMB?

Cookies are generally used for important and beneficial purposes online. However, we all know hackers find unique ways to attack us everyday. Here are some tips you can use to help improve your security in regards to cookies. Note: some of these protections depend upon the web browser you are using, so bear that in mind. 
  • Open your browser  
      • Because cookies are stored in your web browser, the first step is to open your browser. Popular browsers include Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
  • Find the cookie storage
  • Each browser stores cookies in a slightly different location.

    • In Internet Explorer 9, for example, you can find them by clicking “Tools,” then “Internet Options,” then “Privacy.” 
    • In Chrome, choose the Chrome menu on the toolbar, then click “Privacy.” 
    • Most browsers store cookie settings under the privacy options.
  • Choose your settings
  • Every browser gives you a range of options for handling cookies.

    • Internet Explorer, for example, has a slider that you can adjust for greater or lesser amounts of protection.
    • Chrome both lets you delete existing cookies in a single click and choose how future cookies are collected or stored.

Banning all cookies makes websites difficult or impossible to navigate. However, a setting that controls or limits third-party and tracking cookies can help protect your privacy while still making it possible to shop online and carry out similar activities.

Finally, there are some plugins that help you manage and delete cookies with more control that what’s present in the browsers themselves.  This method of advanced protection is typically reserved for developers and cybersecurity experts who really need to understand the privacy and control aspects of cookies from various websites. The average user will never have to touch their own cookies.

To learn more about Cookies, watch this 5 minute video:

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