What Is http Cookie ?

We Have All Heard About How Companies Like Facebook And Google Can Use Cookies To Track Us On The Internet And Track What Interests Us. They Do This In Order To Sell Their Targeted Ads, And In Some Cases Even Share This Data With Others Without Our Permission. In Recent Months, There Has Been A Lot Of Noise Around The Fact That Facebook Is Tracking Its Users Over The Internet.

So How Do They Do It? Before We Get Into This, Let’s First Find Out What Cookies Are And Why They Exist.

Let’s Start From Its History.

History Of http Cookie.

Cookie Was Created In 1994 By An Employee Of Netscape Communications, Name Lou Montulli, The Same Company That Made The Netscape Browser. He Created An Online Store, And He Did Not Want To Store The Contents Of The Basket On The Server.

Instead, He Wanted To Find A Way To Store It On Visitors’ Computers Until They Made Their Purchase. The Reason For This Is Simple: If The Server Does Not Need To Track All The Shopping Carts, It Has Less Work And It Can Save Money.

In 1994, Netscape Browser Implemented Cookies, And The Following Year Internet Explorer Followed Suit. However, Two Years Later – In 1996 – The First Problems Were Revealed When It Was Discovered That Cookies Could Potentially Violate Our Privacy. That Might Be Very True, But We Are Ahead Of Ourselves Here.

How The http Cookie Works ?

Let’s Say You Have A Website That Requires People To Log In To See Its Contents. When You Log In, Your Browser Sends Your Username And Password To The Server, Which Verifies Them And – If Everything Is Verified, It Sends You The Requested Content.

However, There Is A Small Caveat. The HTTP Protocol We Used To Browse The Internet Is Stateless. This Means That When You Make Another Request To The Same Server, It Has Forgotten Who You Are And Will Ask You To Log In Again.

Can You Imagine How Long It Will Take To View A Site Such As Facebook And Have To Log In, Again And Again, Every Time You Click On Something? So Cookies To The Rescue. You Are Still Logging In, And The Server Is Still Checking Your Credentials. However, If Everything Is Checked, The Server Not Only Responds With The Contents But Also Sends A Cookie To Your Browser. Then The Cookie Is Stored On Your Computer And Sent To The Server With Each Request That You Make On This Site.

A Cookie Contains A Unique Identifier That Allows The Server To Remember Who You Are And To Keep You Logged In. As You Can See, Cookies Are Very Useful And They Make Our Life A Lot Easier. But It Does Not Stop There! In Addition To Being Logged In, Cookies Can Also Be Used To Store Your Settings.

Suppose You Change The Number Of Results Your Favorite Search Engine Should Return. Chances Are Good That They Will Keep This Preference In A Cookie, Not On Their Servers. But There Are Some Restrictions On The Use Of Cookies. Most Browsers Allow Websites To Store No More Than 300 Cookies, And They Cannot Contain A Lot Of Data (4096 Bytes In Total).

However, The Biggest Limitation Is The Fact That Cookies Set On One Website Cannot Be Read By Another, And This Limitation Raises The Question – How Can Companies Use Cookies To Track Us On The Internet? Especially If Cookies From One Site Cannot Be Read By Another. How Can Facebook Instance Track Which Sites We Visit? Well, The Whole Process Starts When You Logged Into The Facebook. In Order To Remember That You Are Logged In, Facebook Stores Cookies On Your Computer, There Is Nothing Unusual In This, Many Other Sites Do The Same. This Cookie Is Restricted Or Tied To The Facebook Domain Name, Which Means That No One Except Facebook.com Can Read What Is In The Cookie.

Let’s Now Imagine That You Are Browsing Away And Getting Into Someone Else’s Blog. A Blog Cannot Read Your Cookie On Facebook, And The Scope Does Not Allow It. Facebook Also Cannot See That You Are On This Blog. Things Are Good. But Let’s Now Assume That The Blog Owner Places A Like Button On His Website. To Display The Like Button, Your Browser Needs To Download Some Code From Facebook Servers, And When It Talks To Facebook.com, It Sends The Cookie Set By Facebook Earlier. Facebook Now Knows Who You Are And What You Visited This Blog.

I Use Facebook As An Example Here, But This Technique Is Used By Many Other Companies To Track You Online. The Trick Is Simple: Convince As Many Websites As Possible To Place Part Of Their Code On Their Website. Facebook Is Easy Because Many People Want The Like Or Share Button On Their Site. Google Also Has An Easy Job Because Many Sites Rely On Their Ad Network Or On Google Analytics. At This Point, Cookies Get Out Of Control.

Not All Of These Cookies Track You. In Fact, Several Of Them Are Necessary For The Site To Function Properly As A Session Cookie In Order To Remember That You Are Logged In. However, Most Cookies On These Sites Do Not Serve The User. They Are There To Track You Or Show More Targeted Ads.

How To Prevent Cookie From Tracking ?

So The Question Is What Can We Do To Prevent Those Cookies From Tracking You On The Internet? As A User, You Can Protect Yourself From Trackers By Installing A Browser Extension That Blocks Them, Such As Badger Or Ghostery, Etc. You Do Not Want To Do Anything, The Law Is On Your Side. More And More Politicians Are Realizing That Cookies Pose A Threat To Privacy And That The Use Of Trackers Needs To Be Regulated. India Has A Privacy Law To Protect Our Privacy PDP Bill 2019. In Europe, The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), Which Requires Websites To Be Transparent About Their Use Of Cookies And Sites That Offer Users An Easy Way To Refuse Them.

You Have Probably Seen These Annoying Cookies With Banners Asking For Your Permission. The Next Time You See Them, Don’t Just Click On The Accept Button, But See What Cookies The Website Wants To Place On Your Computer And For What Purpose.

Conclusion

Cookies Were Invented To Make Our Lives Easier And To Allow Us To Stay On Websites Or Remember The Settings That We Changed. However, The Disadvantage Is That Cookies, Along With Other Methods, Can Be Used By Large Corporations To Track Us On The Internet And Collect Data About Us That They Can Potentially Sell To Others.

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