Cookies are used both in real-life and online, the main difference being real-life cookies can be used to store Milk which is then transferred to your mouth and stomach, while digital cookies are used to store data which is transferred to websites. It’s not really that simple, but in a nutshell that is the main purpose of a cookie.
An HTTP Cookie (better known as a web cookie, internet cookie, browser cookie or simply cookie) is a simple text file containing specific information that is stored on your computer. This file is then used by the website that created the file in the first place to obtain specific information about you.
When accessing certain websites (E.g. Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, etc.) a cookie is created by the website and left on your computer. Each time a certain predefined activity is performed either on the website in question or online, the cookie is updated with the new information.
When accessing the host website, this information is sent back to the website in question and used to improve your online experience (in many cases). The key thing to remember at this point is that a cookie is used to store information about you, and this information and file is stored on your computer (or device).
Have you ever allowed a website to “remember you” when logging in? Well, the chances are that the website created a cookie on your computer with your login details.
Whenever you access the website again the information stores in this cookie is used to automatically log you into the website in question.
There is a wide range of cookies available, below are merely a couple of the key ones. This is not a complete list of the cookies available.
A cookie in itself cannot harm your computer (or device); however the information that it stores and the website the information is sent to is generally where the problem lies. Malicious cookies are cookies that try to gather your personal information deviously without any concern for your privacy, once the information is obtained it is then transmitted to the website (or person) who chooses to use it maliciously.