An internet cookie is a text file that a web server stores on your hard drive and within the web browser for later use.
Cookies track, target, and many times, support a user’s activity. In the most benign sense, a cookie lets the server know that a user has returned to a certain website. They can be useful for users who purchase items from an online store, saving information so you don’t have to type it in each time you make a purchase. But cookies can also pose a security threat, particularly when a user’s personal information is saved without encryption. Malicious actors can run programs to retrieve a user’s cookies and internet cache to help them obtain your personal information.
So, while cookies can improve a website’s functionality and user experience, they also pose a serious security threat.
Thankfully, most internet browsers provide users with options to manage cookies – from notifying the user that a website wants to store a cookie to telling websites that the user does not want to store cookies. Managing your cookie intake through browser preferences is a great start for securing your personal data online.
The last tip is simple. Only accept cookies from reputable, trusted websites. Accepting cookies from new or strange sites is tantamount to hitchhiking with a stranger – you just don’t know what might happen.
By knowing the facts and uses of cookies and making online security a personal priority, you can manage your online cookie diet even easier than you manage your real-life cookie diet.
Contact us to learn how to best protect your computer network.