1. What are cookies?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is downloaded on to your computer, smartphone or other device a user uses to access the Internet. A cookie is installed by a request sent from a web page’s server to the browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome), and is completely “passive” (contains no software programs, viruses or spyware and cannot access information from the user’s hardware).
2. What are cookies used for?
These files make it possible to know the user’s device and present its content in a relevant way adapted to the user’s preferences.
3. What cookies do we use?
We use two types of cookies - per user session and fixed. The latter are temporary files that remain on the user’s device until the end of the user session or until the application (web browser) is closed. Fixed files remain on the user’s device for the period parameterised by the cookies or until they are manually deleted by the user.
4. Do cookies contain personal data?
By themselves, cookies do not require personally identifiable information to be used and most often do not identify Internet users personally. Personal data collected with cookies may be collected only to facilitate the user’s use. This data is encrypted in a way that prevents unauthorized persons from accessing it.
5. Delete cookies
6. Why are cookies important for the Internet?
Cookies are central to the efficient functioning of the Internet, helping to draw a certain pattern of preferences and interests of each user. Disagreeing with or disabling cookies can make some sites impossible to use.
Opting out or disabling cookies does not mean that you will no longer receive online advertisements, but that these will no longer appear in your account as favorites and interests collected through your browsing behavior.
Examples of important roles for cookies (that do not require authentication through an account):
• Content and services tailored to user preferences - product and service categories.
• Offers tailored to user preferences - remembering passwords.
• Save child protection filters on Internet content (family mode option, safe search function).
• Limiting the frequency of use of ads - limiting the placement of an ad to a specific user of the site.
• Providing advertisements that would interest the consumer.
• Measurement, optimization, and features from analytics - how to confirm a given level of website traffic, what type of content is being displayed, and how a user is getting to a website (ex: search engines, direct, other websites, etc.). Websites develop these analytics and their use in order to improve the site for the benefit of users.
7. Security and confidentiality
Cookies are NOT viruses! They use the plain text format. They are not made up of pieces of code, so they cannot be executed or run on their own. Therefore, they cannot be duplicated or copied to other networks to run or re-copy. Because they cannot perform these functions, they cannot be considered viruses.
Cookies can still be used for negative purposes. Because they store information about preferences, also about the user’s browsing history, both on a particular site and on most other sites, cookies can be used as a form of Spyware. Many anti-spyware programs are not aware of this fact and constantly flag cookies to be removed during removal/ scanning/ anti-virus/ anti-spyware procedures.
Typically, browsers have built-in privacy settings that provide different levels of cookie acceptance, expiration period, and automatic deletion once a user has visited a site.
Other security aspects related to cookies: since the protection of personal data is extremely important and represents the right of every Internet user, it is recommended to be aware of the possible problems that cookies can create. Through them, information is constantly and bi-directionally sent between the browser and the website, and in the event that a hacker or other unauthorized person interferes while the data is being sent, then the information contained in cookies may be intercepted.
In rare cases, this can happen if the browser connects to the server using an unencrypted network (for example, a wireless non-password protected network).
Another type of cookie-based attack requires incorrect cookie settings on the server. If a website does not require browsers to use only encrypted channels, hackers can exploit this vulnerability to trick browsers into sending information over the unprotected channels. Hackers then use the information to gain unauthorised access to websites. It is very important to be careful when choosing the most appropriate privacy protection.
Tips for secure and responsible cookie-based browsing.
Here are a few tips that can ensure a carefree browsing experience but with the help of cookies:
• Customize your browser’s cookie settings to create an appropriate level of cookie protection.
• If you share access to your computer with someone, you can count your browser settings as deleting your personal browsing data every time you close the browser. This is the option for accessing the sites that distribute cookies and for deleting any information when you visit when you close your browsing session.
• Install and maintain anti-spyware applications consistently.
Many spyware detection and prevention applications involve the detection of attacks on websites. This prevents the browser from being accessed by sites that could exploit browser vulnerabilities or download malware.
Make sure your browser is always up to date.
Many cookie-based attacks are implemented by exploiting weaknesses in old and outdated browser versions.
Cookies are everywhere and cannot be avoided if you want to enjoy access to the best and biggest websites - locally and internationally. With a clear understanding of how they operate and the benefits they bring, you can take the necessary security measures so that you can surf the web with confidence.
Disabling or refusing to receive cookies can make some sites unusable or difficult to visit and use. Also, refusing to accept cookies does not mean that you will no longer receive/see online advertisements.
All modern browsers offer the ability to change cookie settings. These settings are generally found in the “options” or “preferences” menu of your browser. To find these settings, you can also use your browser’s “help” option for more details.