An Internet Cookie is a small snippet of information sent from a web server to a user’s browser, which then stores it. On subsequent access to the same web server, this server can then read back this information snippet and use it to “recognize” the user.
These are an extension of the “Hypertext Transfer Protocol” (HTTP). This protocol makes surfing possible by allowing the requested web page to be delivered from the relevant server to your computer and then displayed in your browser.
They are, normally, stored as Text Files in the C:\Users\<username>\Cookies folder.
You can read them with Notepad, or use WinPatrol for reading and managing them.
Types of Internet Cookies
First Party Cookies are generally used to personalize your experience with a website, whereas, any cookie used by a web site, OTHER THAN, the one you are currently visiting is referred to as a 3rd Party Cookie.
The Dark Side of Cookies
But it is not a bad idea to set your browser block 3rd Party Cookies, which are nothing but Cookies from another website requested via an embedded advertising banner. These have no benefit to the user as they are only used for data gathering purposes.
Again they could be Session Cookies or Persistent Cookies. The former are temporary and deleted after you close down your IE, whereas the latter are more permanent in nature and store your sign-in details and passwords.
And then, there are Supercookies! Supercookies are a serious threat to internet privacy. They are not stored on your computer but can identify your web traffic and are tremendously tough to detect.
Flash cookies and Silverlight cookies are referred to as Browser Independent Cookies. You can Delete Flash Cookies in Windows using Flash Player Settings or Flash Cookie Remover or via Delete Browsing History in Internet Explorer.
When you access any web site, the browser compares the site’s compact privacy statement, with your expressed privacy preferences. Based on it, it then accepts, restricts, or blocks the cookies.
Most browsers support the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) standard. This enables them to filter Cookies. It can block or admit cookies on the basis of their content and purposes, in accordance with your stated privacy preferences.
So then, are Cookies Spyware…not in the real sense at least…no definitely not! At most, they could be a cause for concern for the privacy-conscious. No matter how hard the Anti-Spyware companies try to make them out to be spyware, they really not worth the ‘hue and cry’.