What are Cookies?
In the midst of our discussion about the danger of cyber world we have decided to introduce you some important existences in internet which we have to face during net surfing and which we can’t avoid as we will have to allow them during net surfing, otherwise your desired web page may not be opened in your computer. We think now netizens have started their guess what it is. Yes it is cookies, which are deposited in the hard drives of our computer by the websites when we visit them in the internet. It is essentially your identification card. Actually this is a piece of information sent by web server to a user’s browser. It is a small text file that websites can leave on a visitor's hard disk, helping them to track that person over time. The browser saves the information and sends it back to web server whenever the browser returns to the website. Cookies can also be used for tracking the path of a user while visiting the web pages of a site. Now you will say why we are discussing it here and in response we will tell you that there are some misconceptions about cookies and there are some dangers from cookies as these are misused by website developers and webmasters.
Now let make it clear to you what cookies are:-
- A cookie is a unique bit of information sent by a Web server to identify a particular machine and browser.
- Cookies are stored in a text file whose exact name and location depend on the user's operating system and browser.
- Cookies can contain specific information about the user:
- Username and password
- Date of last visit
- Web servers use the stored information to identify the particular user by requesting authentication information from the user.
- Cookies are browser-specific. A cookie set when you browse in Netscape Navigator will not be read if you visit the same site again using Internet Explorer. (source netmechanic.com)
What cookies are not: -
- Cookies cannot store any personal information about the user that the user doesn't voluntarily supply to the Web site.
- Cookies do not contain viruses, as it is not a program and it is a text file.
- A server can only get data from the cookie it wrote to the cookie file - it can't go fishing for information on the hard drive.
There are two types of cookies: a Persistent cookie and a Session cookie. A Persistent cookie gets entered by your Web browser into the cookie folder on your computer’s hard drive. A Persistent cookie remains in that cookie folder, which is maintained and governed by your Web browser, after you close your browser program. A Session cookie is temporary and disappears after you close your browser. Ad serving cookies i.e. Dart cookie falls under Persistent cookie. Finally we can assure you that a cookie can’t be a virus. In our next article we will discuss how cookie works and when it becomes vulnerable.