HTTP cookies are probably as old as the Internet. These are small files that get written onto your computer’s http browser cookiehard drive every time you visit a website. They are not even files as such, just text packets. These text packets are sent to a web browser (like IE or Firefox) when it connects to any website server on the internet via a server. Then, each time you log back onto the site, the browser will send the cookie back to the server. What purpose does this serve? Well, the cookie contains information as to when you last visited the site, which pages you went to, what you did, and any information you gave out. A simple example: when you sign in to your Gmail account, you use an ID and a password. How does the Gmail server manage to identify that ID and password is correct the next time you visit? Cookies! Thus, cookies are a way of authenticating users. They are also a way of tracking your behavior on the website, each time you visit it. Often on many websites, it is impossible for you to do anything without cookies. For example, the shopping cart feature on websites requires use of cookies.

Read the rest of this entry »