Here are 4 questions you have to answer: What is it used for? What is it? Is it dangerous? What should we do with it?
After, it’s up to you to decide.
What are the cookies used for?
Cookies aren’t a new concept. The small retail shop in your street you regularly visit happens to progressively know you and to memorize your habits: the day you come, your tastes and expectations. The owner does all he (or she) can to satisfy you as fast as he/she can when you come.
It’s more difficult in bigger shops. There is much more people coming with different habits that it has become impossible to follow. Shops passed to the fidelity cards that, at least, register the total of your purchase. The most evolved system also collects what you’ve purchased.
On the Internet, it’s similar. One memorizes your habits: visit time, visit duration, what you’ve done, etc. So, next time, your search is made easier and faster to get to what interest you. They also tend to show you ‘what could interest you’.
Cookies have, hence, a commercial utility.
What is a cookie?
The only difference with the fidelity card is that the information ‘to help you’ isn’t stored any more on the visited site, but on your own computer. It requires no memory space by the seller. There is no need to manage it.
It has become your problem, as it’s by you that the cookies are invading your memory space.
Be quiet though. Your Internet browser and search engines also lay cookies and store lot of them on their systems.
This allows me, among other possibilities, to know how many people come to read me, how frequent they come, how long they stay, how many pages they read and which ones first.
Are the cookies dangerous?
It’s difficult – and dangerous – to generalize. As everywhere, there are honest and dishonest people.
A cookie, is like an ‘egg’ you ignore everything about: its content, its action and the moment of this action. Nothing prevents a site to study what you visit by ‘the others’ – they could read their competitor’s cookies or memorize your moves, thanks to your web browser that has its history.
The issue isn’t “if” you’ll host, without knowing it, rotten eggs on your computer, but “how long” they’ve been laid and are active transmitting information about you. Just like when a neighbour watches all you do, when you go in and out, and with whom.
One of the potential dangers is an intrusion in your computer (malware, hacking, computer theft). One will dispose of a lot of information about you that you wont be happy to see publicly exposed.
What to do with the cookies?
You can refuse the cookies. Your web browser allows it. But your visit of many sites will become impossible or very difficult.
You can accept the cookies, blindly – in full confidence? Should we trust an unknown person, all the time, for everything?
There is a third option: “make an omelette!” In other words, regularly wipe the cookies your computer has accumulated. The easiest way and the most radical, is to ask your web browser to wipe them, along, with the history, at the end of your session.
You can also ask it to an external tool (such as CCleaner) to regularly do the job. Its wipe is unrecoverable.
Up to you to decide if the cookies on your computer are as delicious as the American pastries. And decide how you’ll eat them.
See you soon, safer with your information.
Photo credit: personal reserve.Google+