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.
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What does this mean for your SMB?
Open your browser
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.