What is a Cookie?
A cookie is a small data file that the site associates with visitors in order to facilitate its optimal operation, efficiency, and security. Cookies are installed through requests sent by a server to an Internet browser (eg Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome). These files do not contain software, viruses or spyware, and can not access the information stored on the hard drive of the device. Cookies do not require personal information to be used, and in the rare cases they do not personally identify Internet users.
The duration of cookie files may vary significantly, depending on the purpose for which they are placed. Cookies can be deleted by the user at any time through browser settings.
Cookies themselves do not require personal information to be used and, in most cases, do not personally identify Internet users.
There are 2 large categories of cookies:
– session cookies – they are temporarily stored in the web browser’s cookie folder so that the browser saves them until the user exits the web site or closes the browser window (eg when logging on / off the webmail or social networking account).
– persistent cookies – they are stored on the hard drive of a computer or device (and generally depends on the default cookie lifetime). Persistent cookies include those placed on a website other than the one the User is currently visiting – known as ‘third party cookies’ – which can be used anonymously to store a User’s interests so as to deliver advertising as relevant to the User.
What are the benefits of cookies?
A cookie contains information linking a web browser (the user) and a specific webserver (the Website). If a browser accesses that webserver again, it can read the already stored information and respond accordingly. Cookies provide users with a pleasant browsing experience and support the efforts of many websites to provide comfortable user services: examples – online privacy preferences, site language options, shopping carts, or relevant advertising.
What is the life of a cookie?
Cookies are managed by web servers. The life of a cookie may vary significantly, depending on the purpose for which it is placed. Some cookies are used only for one session (session cookies) and are no longer retained once the user has left the website and some cookies are retained and reused each time the user returns to that site (cookies permanent). However, cookies can be deleted by a User at any time through browser settings.
What are cookies placed by third parties?
How are cookies used by this site?
A visit to this site may place cookies for purposes of:
Site performance cookies;
This type of cookie retains the user’s preferences on this site, so they no longer need to be set at each site visit. Examples: – video player volume settings – the streaming video speed with which the browser is compatible.
Visitor analysis cookies;
Each time a User visits this site, third-party analytics software generates a User Analytics cookie. This cookie tells us if you’ve visited this site before. The browser will tell us if you have this cookie, and if not, we will generate one. It allows monitoring of Unique Visitors who visit us and how often they do it.
Cookies for geotargetting;
These cookies are used by software that determines where you come from. It is completely anonymous and is used only to target the content – even when you are on our page in Romanian or in another language you receive the same advertisement.
When you sign up for this site, we generate a cookie that tells us if you are registered or not. Our servers use these cookies to show us the account with which you are registered and if you have permission for a particular service. It also allows us to associate any comments you post on our site with your username. If you have not selected „Keep me logged in”, this cookie will automatically delete when you close your browser or computer.
Cookies for advertising;
These cookies let us know whether or not you have viewed an online ad, what type of ad, and how long it has been since you saw the ad message. These cookies are also used to target online advertising. We may also use third-party cookies to better target advertising, for example, to show holiday ads, if the user has recently visited an article on holiday sites. These cookies are anonymous, they store information about the viewed content, not about the users. We also set anonymous cookies through other sites that we advertise. By accepting them, so we can use them to recognize you as a User of that site if you later visit our site, we will be able to deliver your advertising based on this information.
Other third-party cookies
On some pages, third parties can set their own anonymous cookies in order to track the success of an application or customize an application. Due to the use of this site, this site can not access these cookies, just as third parties can not access the cookies owned by this site. For example, when you share an article using the social network button on this site, that social network will record your activity.
What type of information is stored and accessed through cookies?
Cookies store information in a small text file that allows a website to recognize a browser. The Webserver will recognize your browser until the cookie expires or is deleted. The cookie stores important information that enhances the Internet browsing experience (for example, the settings of the language in which a site is accessed, keeping a user logged in to the webmail account, online banking security, storing products in the shopping cart).
Why are Internet Cookies Important?
Cookies are the focal point of the efficient Internet operation, helping to generate a friendly browsing experience and tailored to the preferences and interests of each User. Denying or disabling cookies can make some sites impossible to use.
Denying or disabling cookies does not mean you will not get online advertising – just that it will no longer be able to keep your preferences and interests highlighted by your browsing behavior.
Examples of important uses of cookies (which do not require authentication of a user through an account):
- Content and services tailored to the user’s preferences – news, weather, sports, maps, public and governmental services, entertainment sites and travel services.
- Offers tailored to users’ interests – password retention, language preferences (eg display of Romanian search results).
- Retaining Child Protection Filters for Content on the Internet (family mode options, safe search functions).
- Limit ad serving frequency – limit the number of impressions of an ad for a particular User on a site.
- Providing more relevant advertising to the User.
- Measurement, optimization, and analytics features – such as confirming a certain level of traffic on a website, what kind of content is viewed, and how a user reaches a website (eg. search engines, directly from other websites etc.). Websites conduct these analyzes of their use to improve sites for the benefit of Users.
Security and confidentiality issues
Cookies are NOT Viruses! They use plain text formats. They are not made of pieces of code so they can not be executed or can run themselves. Consequently, they can not duplicate or replicate on other networks to run or replicate again. Because they can not perform these functions, they can not be considered viruses.
Cookies can still be used for negative purposes. Because it stores information about users’ preferences and browsing history, both on a particular site and on several other sites, cookies can be used as a form of Spyware. Many anti-spyware products are aware of this and consistently mark cookies to be deleted in anti-virus / anti-spyware removal / scanning procedures.
In general, browsers have built-in privacy settings that provide different levels of cookie acceptance, shelf life, and automatic deletion after the user has visited a particular site.
Other security issues related to cookies
Because identity protection is very valuable and is the right of every Internet User, it is advisable to know what issues can create cookies. Because their information is constantly transmitted in both directions between the browser and the website, if an attacker or unauthorized person interferes with the data transmission path, the information contained in the cookie can be intercepted. Although very rarely, this can happen if the browser connects to the server using an unencrypted network (eg an unsecured Wi-Fi network).
Other cookie-based attacks involve bad cookie settings on servers. If a website does not require the browser to use only encrypted channels, attackers can use this vulnerability to trick browsers into sending information via unsecured channels. Attackers then use the information for purposes of unauthorized access to certain sites. It is very important to be careful in choosing the most appropriate method of protecting personal information.
Tips for safe and responsible cookie-based navigation
- Here are a few tips that can help you navigate without worries with cookies:
- Customize your browser settings for cookies to reflect a comfortable level for you on cookie security.
- If you do not mind cookies and are the only person using your computer, you can set expiration dates to store your browsing history and personal data.
- If you share access to your computer, you can consider setting your browser to delete individual browsing data each time you close your browser. This is a way of accessing sites that place cookies and deleting any visitor information at the end of the browsing session.
- Install and constantly update your antispyware applications.
Many of the applications for detecting and preventing spyware include detecting attacks on sites. This prevents the browser from accessing websites that could exploit browser vulnerabilities or download dangerous software. Make sure your browser is always up-to-date. Many of the cookies-based attacks are exploited by exploiting the weaknesses of older browser versions.
Cookies are everywhere and can not be avoided if you want to enjoy access to the best and greatest websites on the Internet – local or international. With a clear understanding of how they work and the benefits they bring, you can take the necessary security measures so you can browse with confidence on the internet.
How do I stop cookies?
Disabling and refusing to receive cookies can make some sites unfeasible or difficult to visit and use. Also, refusing to accept cookies does not mean you will not receive / see online advertising anymore. It is possible to set the browser to disable these cookies, or you can set the browser to accept cookies from a specific site. But, for example, if you are not registered using cookies, you will not be able to leave comments. All modern browsers offer the ability to change cookie settings. These settings are usually found in your browser’s „options” or „preferences” menu.
To understand these settings, the following links may be useful, otherwise you can use the browser’s „help” option for more details.
- Cookiesettings in Internet Explorer http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/internet-explorer/delete-manage-cookies#ie=ie-11
- Cookiesettings in Mozilla https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-and-disable-cookies-website-preferences
- Cookiesettings in Chrome https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95647?hl=en
- Cookiesettings in Safari https://support.apple.com/kb/ph17191?locale=en_US
If you want to learn more about cookies and what they are used for, we recommend the following links:
- Microsoft Cookies guide (http://www.microsoft.com/info/cookies.mspx)
- All About Cookies (http://www.allaboutcookies.org/)
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