Skip to main content

What is the relationship between Cookies and Cybersecurity?

By June 2, 2022January 10th, 2024No Comments

Every action we undertake on the internet requires privacy; keeping our personal information out of the hands of strangers is vital for our safety. The act of preventing assaults on computers, phones, servers, data, electronic systems, and networks is referred to as cybersecurity.

We’ve probably all seen a popup or other form of warning about the use of cookies. Some websites even give you the option of accepting or rejecting cookies fully or in part. So, there’s a basic concern that needs to be addressed: is it safe to enable cookies? What precisely is a cookie before we get to that question? Let’s take a closer look at how cookies relate to cyber security.

What Is a Cookie?

A cookie is the name given to a message sent from a web server to a web browser (also known as an Internet or Web cookie). The major aim of a cookie is to identify users and maybe create customized websites for them, as well as to save your site login information.

When you visit a website that utilizes cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form with personal information such as your name, email address, and hobbies. This data is encoded in a cookie and sent to your browser, where it is saved for future use. The cookie will be delivered to the Web server by your browser the next time you visit the same site.cookies

Each time the browser requests a page from the server, the message is returned to the server. Because a web server has no memory, the hosted website you’re viewing saves a browser cookie file on your hard disc to remember your identity and preferences. The Web server can utilize the information obtained as a result of this message exchange to provide you with customized Web pages. Instead of viewing a generic welcome page, for example, you might receive a personalized welcome page.

In most cases, a cookie will contain a text string that contains information about the browser. To work, a cookie does not need to know where you are; it only needs to remember your browser. Cookies are used by some websites to store additional personal information about you. However, you can only do so if you have provided the website with your personal information. Legitimate Websites will encrypt personal data contained in cookies to prevent unwanted access to your cookie folder by a third party.

The types of cookies are −

  • Session cookie − A session cookie is one that is automatically deleted when you close your browser. When the browser is closed, the session cookie is only maintained in temporary memory and is destroyed. Session cookies do not save any information on your computer or mobile device. They often save data in a session identifier that does not directly identify the user.

  • Persistent cookie −A permanent or stored cookie is one that remains on your hard drive until it expires (persistent cookies have expiration dates) or you delete it. Persistent cookies are used to collect personally identifying information about users, such as browsing patterns or website preferences.

Cookies and Cybercriminals

The cookies themselves are completely safe. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, can use them to impersonate you online and gain access to your accounts. By putting code in stolen cookies, cybercriminals can spread malware and trick you into visiting unsafe websites. Cookies can also be used by cybercriminals to make websites appear unreachable to web browsers. As previously stated, when you return to a website, your web browser sends a cookie to the website’s web server. A cybercriminal can change a cookie to send hundreds of cookies to the web server instead of just one. The server shuts the connection when the cookie data exceeds the limit defined in the connection configuration. You won’t be able to use the website until you clear your cookies.

Cookies have the potential to be a serious privacy hazard. From simple functions like counting ad impressions, views, and clicks to limiting popups and storing ad sequence, marketing cookies have come a long way in their ability to track users over time. They may now profile users and track website preferences. The adoption of large-scale third-party ad serving networks like Google’s Adsense/Adwords by the bulk of the top websites has caused a lot of debate and concern among online consumer privacy advocates, leading to the establishment of special legislation to avoid exploitation.

How to be safe with Cookies?

Although cookies offer a security risk, most online activities may be avoided or minimized. You protect yourself from the most dangerous aspects of cookies, make sure to do the following:

  • Always be cautious when sending personal information. Proceed with caution because cookies have the capacity to transmit this information. If you’re using a public computer, don’t email any personal information.
  • Turn off cookie storage in your web browser. This minimizes the amount of data shared and may affect the privacy settings on your browser.
  • There are browser add-ons that block third-party software like cookie trackers and keep your browsing information private.
  • Malware can disguise itself as harmless cookies or enter advertising networks, so keep your anti-malware software up to date on your computer at all times.
  • If a website requests you to accept cookies, and you’re unsure whether it’s legitimate, leave it right away.

So, how safe is it to allow cookies?

Cookies, of course, pose a number of security and privacy concerns, but they may also be extremely useful and are required by most modern websites. As a result, disabling cookies is out of the question.

The focus should be on making sure that cookies are used safely.  Want to learn more about cybersecurity and how to keep your office computers safe?  Schedule your Complimentary Business Systems Assessment today!

Request Your Complimentary Consultation!


Photo Credit: