A cookie is a piece of information in the form of
a very small text file that is placed on an internet user's hard
drive. It is generated by a web page server, which is basically the
computer that operates a web site. The information the cookie
contains is set by the server and it can be used by that server
whenever the user visits the site. A cookie can be thought of as an
internet user's identification card, which tell a web site when the
user has returned.
What does a cookie look like?
Below is the content of a typical cookie. This
example is from the Hotmail service and has the filename
email@example.com (.txt is the standard filename extension for
text files). The cookie contains the text: HMP1 1 hotmail.msn.com/
0 1715191808 32107852 1236821008 29449527. This code information is
typical in that it does not contain personal information and will
only make sense to Microsoft's MSN Hotmail servers.
Cookies for the internet were originally developed in 1995 by the
Netscape Communications Corporation. The word "cookie" comes from
"magic cookie," a term in programming languages for a piece of
information shared between co-operating pieces of software. The
choice of the word cookie appears to come from the American
tradition of giving and sharing edible cookies.
What is the purpose of cookies?
Cookies make the interaction between users and
web sites faster and easier. Without cookies, it would be very
difficult for a web site to allow a visitor to fill up a shopping
cart or other information that needs to be remembered from page to
page during a visit to the site.
browsing experience more efficient and enjoyable. Web sites also
visitors a site has and which pages they prefer.
Cookies can also be used to monitor their users' web surfing
habits and profile them for marketing purposes (for example, to
find out which products or services they are interested in and send
them targeted advertisements). This type of cookie is not used on
this website and no personal information is stored in cookies or
passed on to any third party.
Are there different types of cookies?
There are three main types of cookies:
Cookies that are stored in the computer's memory
only during a user's browsing session and are automatically deleted
from the user's computer when the browser is closed.
These cookies usually store a session ID that is not personally
identifiable to users, allowing the user to move from page to page
without having to log-in repeatedly. They are widely used by
shooping sites (for example, to keep track of items that a consumer
has added to a shopping cart.)
Session cookies are never written permanently on the hard drive
and they do not collect any information from the user's computer.
Session cookies expire at the end of the user's browser session and
can also become no longer accessible after the session has been
inactive for a specified length of time, usually 20 minutes.
ANALYTICS stored cookies
Cookies that are stored on the user's computer
and used to help in measuring the number of visitors to the website
and whether they are new or returning visitors. There are usually 4
of these cookies and they are held on the hard drive for varying
amounts of time.
Analytics cookies do not contain personally identifiable
information and are only valuable indirectly to the web site owner
in allowing them to ensure the site provides the information and
functions that users find most useful.
PERSISTENT and THIRD PARTy COOKIES
These exist for a number of reasons and can be
entirely beneficial. However a number of sites store data entered
by the user into a cookie which can be accessed by other websites.
This is known as a third party cookie and can be used to target
specific content and advertising at the user dependent upon their
personal details or browsing habits when visiting subsequent web
Recent (2011/12) legislation has targeted these very intrusive
cookies as breaching the users right to privacy. Consequently the
user should be provided a mechanism to disallow the use of these
cookies. It should be borne in mind however that this regulation
affects only EU based websites, those owned and hosted in the US or
elsewhere are not covered.
Are cookies dangerous?
No. Cookies are small pieces of text. They are
not computer programs, and they can't be executed as code. Also,
they cannot be used to disseminate viruses, and modern browsers
allow users to set their own limitations to the number of cookies
saved on their hard drives.
Can cookies threaten users' privacy?
Certain web sites may store personal information
in a cookie and leave it on your computer so that it can be read by
other systems. This can then be used to target advertising or other
material when you visit subsequent websites. This is the technique
used when online adverts start to offer items that you have
recently looked at or searched for.
This type of usage is being targeted by new (2011/12) EU
intrusively to collect or utilise personal data then the user must
have the option to disallow the use of such cookies. Those that are
only used specifically to ensure the effective operation of the
site do not need to be treated in this way.
The 101Smart website and all websites created by 101Smart
specifically do not use any such intrusive cookies. The only
cookies used are a session cookie for short term site function and
analytics cookies from Google analytics to measure the number of