Cookies, Privacy, and Cybersecurity

A wealth of sensitive data is contained in cookies, thus they’re subject to regulation. Some states, countries, and regions have constituted legislative and regulatory guidelines that require website owners to query users for permission to collect data, that is, the consent box users see the first time they visit a website. Even though they might be tempted to unambiguously ‘accept cookies’ to do away with the disgusting window, there’re risks affiliated with that. It’s always paramount to go through the fine print and tailor the cookie settings according to the information you want to be saved. But even before accepting cookies of a particular site, users can tailor the cookie setting of their web browsers.

Nearly all popular browsers have two major techniques for limiting the impact that cookies have on the user’s privacy. First, by utterly deleting cookies from their devices, and second, by obstructing specific types of cookies such as third-party cookies. Again, the delete option may appear easier and effortless, but it’s nowhere near convenient. By spending some minutes tweaking their browser’s cookie settings, users can notably elevate their privacy while steering clear of unwarranted inconveniences when visiting websites. Also, some security solutions have safety browsing features that will warn users about scamming sites while protecting their devices against malware.

Why cookies have become a privacy issue

Cookies are essentially harmless and cannot unearth users’ critical information or expose sensitive data by themselves; they’re designed to store certain forms of data in several ways. cookies do not generate the data; it’s created when users submit/enter information on websites like registration websites, payment websites, and other web pages. Data stored in the cookies is encoded and safeguarded against cyber-attacks with information security solutions like secure sockets layers (SSL). However, cookies are sometimes regarded as major influencing factors to users’ privacy thanks to the ability to store browsing history and tracking characteristics.

It’s imperative to distinguish between the various types of cookies and the purpose they serve. For instance, web cookies perform a multitude of functions including offering continuity to the previous internet pages, assisting to remember login credentials (username and password) of log-in pages to websites, and providing preferences and other content pertinent to the browsing needs of users. Different types of cookies are used to perform different tasks. Regarding the retention period, cookies are classified into persistent and session cookies. Whereas persistent cookies are stored on the browsers of the device until they get expired or are deleted, session cookies are stored in temporary file memories and aren’t recalled after shutting down the device browser. Session cookies are designed to offer an instantaneous benefit(s) before the session ends. For exCookies improve user experience and convenience of sites. Studies show that over 20% of websites adopt persistent cookies that are kept on users’ devices to assist remember information regarding site settings, preferences, login credentials, or files that have earlier been saved. For instance, an eCommerce website can remember a user’s select currency, or a football streaming site might have the user’s sign-in details, so they don’t have to re-enter their login credentials. Also, cookies are designed to track users’ activity: they can harvest the user data and make suggestions based on their previous activities, and show target ads. However, whereas cookies will possibly be eliminated or substituted in the future, with virtually all sites still asking whether you would to “Accept cookies,” “Yes, I accept Cookies,” or “Accept Cookies & continue,” before hitting that button, there’re numerous cybersecurity considerations you must keep in mind.

ample, cookies that store web page information when filling online forms – cease to exist immediately after closing the web page. Persistent cookies are designed to offer customized data while gathering statistical data regarding users’ browsing behaviors/activities.

Tracking or third-party cookies are long-lasting types of cookies that have a substantive impact on device cybersecurity and influence users’ privacy. They are considered abhorrent as can violate users’ privacy and expose the device to cyber risks through behavior profiling based on the users’ browsing history. Tracking cookies enable advertising and data analytic companies to pursue the browsing data on all sites. For instance, a software marketing firm can find out user(s) were searching for their application on a particular app store. Other forms of tracking cookies feature zombie information or are zombies themselves. They are deployed on the browser and reappear even after being deleted: they’re difficult to remove.

How to prevent tracking cookies?

Users can block third-party cookies before they can even manifest, by enabling the “do not track” capability, often supported under the privacy settings of their browser. Also, users are advised to delete/clear cookies regularly in their browser history. Alternatively, users can deploy ad-blockers and/or anti-tracking solutions on their devices.  


Cookies themselves aren’t harmful but can significantly expose your data and/or computer to cyber criminals. Hackers can quickly hijack data stored in cookies and use it to commit malicious activities. Therefore, users should be careful with the kind of information they share online; they ought to read that fine print before hitting the “accept cookies” button and customize the cookies based on the information required to safeguard their privacy while maintaining convenience.    

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