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Cookies are also known as HTTP cookies, web cookies, Internet cookies, and browser cookies. They are small pieces of information sent from a website and are stored on a user’s computer by the web browser as text strings. Cookies can be used for session management, personalisation and tracking. They allow websites to record the user’s browsing activity, such as visited pages, and also remember previously entered information, such as name, address, password, and username. When the user returns to a website, the browser sends the cookies to the web server and fills in the previously completed information, which improves the user’s browsing experience.
Cookies help companies create a more customized user experience. However, cookies also allow companies to take advantage of your browsing history. Because they track you and your surfing habits over time, they can build a profile of your interests and sell that information to an advertising company. Or they might see interest in a particular product and raise prices when you return to their site. Unless you are using a trusted and regularly visited site, it is a good practice to clear or disable browser cookies.
Since cookie data doesn’t change, cookies themselves are harmless. As well as this, they can’t infect computers with viruses or malware. However, some can be hijacked by cyber-criminals, allowing them to commit cyber-crimes, like sending malicious ads, and can track you and your activities without your consent, putting your privacy at risk. Cookies can be removed to help mitigate risks of privacy breaches, but it can make certain sites harder to navigate.