Here's what you need to know about cookies

Not the edible kind...

We’ve all done it; hit “accept” on a cookie warning without reading the terms and conditions. Very often we do it just to get rid of the banner; but should you pay closer attention to those Ts&Cs?

A cookie is a text file, which is downloaded onto your device when you visit a site. This small file contains the name of the site along with a unique user ID. No personal information is stored. If you visit the same site again, your device checks to see if the cookie is relevant and sends that information back to the site. 

Why does this happen?

A number of websites user the information sent back from your device to tailor their offering for you. This works well for online shopping sites. ‘Cookies’ are what makes a particular site remember what you left in your cart, for example. They help the site learn your layout preferences, how long you spend on a site and even if you have a background colour preference.

You don't have to accept cookies when you visit a site, but the service is enhanced in many ways by doing so. 

While the cookies do not collect sensitive information, a banner appears on sites now after it emerged that this process was happening, without the consent of the user. 

How to delete cookies:

It’s possible to delete cookies from any browser. Here’s how to erase them via Google Chrome.

  • Within Chrome, open the menu tab in the upper-right corner.
  • Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Content Settings
  • From there you will be faced with four options for dealing with cookies.
  • These are: store all cookies without discretion, store all cookies but delete once the browser is closed, block entirely (not recommended) and block third-party tracking cookies.

As mentioned, there’s nothing to fear when it comes to cookies, but knowledge is power. You can decide to accept, or not, as you browse the web.