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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Internet Cookies -- Problem or Misconception

Internet Cookies

Internet Cookies does makes users life easier on Internet and now a days, almost every site use this feature in order to provide better user experience.
So What These Internet Cookies Really Are?
Whenever you are connected to the Internet and doing browsing, almost all the websites generate a text file and save it in your hard disk. That text file contains user information which that particular website use it for the information purpose. Let's say if you visit the site again, the website will search for that particular text file in your Hard disk and will automatically recall all of your details. That text file is a Cookie. The websites can only retrieve their cookie files, they cannot open other cookie files or cannot do any other stuff in your computer.

Cookies contains a unique visitor ID for you (now a days websites keep all the information related to that user in the cookies like the web pages you visited, links clicked etc) so whenever you return to that site again, it checks your ID and this is how it remember all of your details. Cookies are not a software, which will be downloaded by a website and then your user information will be forwarded to them. No, this is not the case. Cookies are not a self executed files.

Many people also thinks that cookies are viruses, which is not true. As I said above that these are just a text files and they cannot do anything by itself.

How This Process Actually Works?
1. If you type any website address in your browser's address bar, your browser will contact the main server of that website (where it's published / hosted).
2. After a successful connection, the main server will look for a cookie file in your computer and if you have that file, then your browser will send the details which are inside cookie file to the main server
3. Incase you don't have a cookies file, the main server will treat you as a new user and will then generate a unique id for you and keep a record of that cookies in their database. Same details will be forwarded to your browser as well, which then creates a cookie file in your computer.
Why Websites Need Cookie Files?
Now a days, each and every website is dynamic. There are really very interactive sites which requires to keep users information or keep a track of their visitors in their record for many reasons.
For example
1. How many visitors came today
2. How many are new visitors
3. How many times a visitor has visited to the site
4. Keeps the user preferences
Let's say, if you go to Gmail sign-in page and If you click the check mark of Remember Me, then the website will keep a record of your user name and password in their database and in the cookie file saved in your hard disk.

Behind The Scenes (Warning)
  • If you are using multiple browsers, then your cookies will not be synchronized between the browsers. Means the websites will save different version of cookies for each browser and will treat you as a different user for each browser. The location where the cookies are stored in your computer is also different for each browser.
  • Because of these files, information which belongs to you will be disclosed to others. For example, if you are using a public computer like at Internet Cafe, and if the website saves your email address or password then there will be a problem. This thing often happens because by default if that remember me is already checked (as i said above), then all of your personal information is leaked and will be accessed by others.
  • If your network connection is not secured (wireless or the website which you are browsing is not a secured website) bad users or hackers can read the data which is passing through on the internet or on network, including the cookies, using programs called packet sniffers.
  • The cookie file is not only generated by the website page, but links, images or advertisement banners also generates cookie files. These banners or advertisements not only keep the records of you but also tracks you or should i say act like a spy. And these cookies which are generated by the advertisements keep a record like which websites you are visiting, which links you are clicking and then sell such information to the Marketers. These are called bad cookies or malicious cookies
  • Your computer has to look for the cookies every time you visit a webpage and this can slow down your computer and the speed of your Internet.
  • Anti-spyware products often warns users about cookies because cookies can be used to track computer activities.
  • As i told you above that cookies should be open by only those websites which have made that file. However, some bad sites often modify the contents of cookies in order to send same information to the other sites as well

Address of Internet Cookies:
The easiest way to look for the cookies in your computer is to search for the folder name "Cookies"

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Most of the contents are published here were collected through email and Internet. I bear no responsibility for these contents.