This document provides information on Internet ‘cookies‘. Cookies are tiny data files, stored on your computer that significantly improve and speed up the surfing experience. e.g. they help your computer to ‘tell’ a web site how it should be properly displayed on your computer and may even communicate your language, video quality, volume of videos preferences, etc. to ensure you see what you want to see in the way you want it.
Cookies are a user friendly way to ‘store’ your conveniences in a way that you retain full control over them. If for some reason you decide you don’t like cookies you can deactivate them. If you like some of cookies but not others, you can get rid of those you don’t like and still enjoy the advantages of those you like. There are many misconceptions about ‘cookies’ and this document aims at providing you with information and support on how to manage cookies settings.
A cookie is a small text file that is stored on a user’s web browser. The cookie is set by request by a web server to a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, chrome). A cookie is entirely ‘passive’ and does not contain software programmes, a virus or spyware. A cookie is composed of two parts, its name and its content or value of the cookie. Moreover, the lifetime of the cookie is determined. Technically, only the web server that sent the cookie can access it again when a user returns to a website associated with that web server.
A cookie contains information linked from a web browser (the user) to a specific web server (the website). If a web browser accesses that web server again, the web server can read from and react to that information. Cookies ensure a user-friendly experience and support safety efforts for many online offers and services, e.g. language preferences, privacy settings, shopping baskets of online shops or relevant adverts.
Cookies store data in a small text file that allow a website to recognize a browser. The web server will recognise the web browser until a cookie expires or is deleted. Cookies store useful information that improve the internet experience, e.g. store language settings in order for a user to see the website in his / her language; allow a user to remain logged-in his webmail; secure online banking; ‘remember’ the items in a shopping basket.
No, cookies are not active programs. As a result, they cannot be spyware (that illegally intercepts data) and cannot carry a virus. They do not have access to the information on your hard drive.
No, cookies do not pose any safety or security risks. They are not ‘active’, executable, software. They do not spy on data that is stored in the computer nor can they carry a virus.
Yes, browsers offer cookie management setting tools (please see some help below). Browser settings can be set to require the user’s confirmation for each cookie that might be stored on his / her PC. You can also set the browser to accept cookies only from specific web sites (e.g. your favourite news site). Browsers can also enable users to delete specific cookies. It is even possible to set a browser to reject all cookies. Note that choosing to disable all cookies could significantly affect your web browsing experience because many Internet services rely on cookies.
Cookies are managed by web servers. The lifespan of a cookie can vary significantly, depending on its purpose. Some cookies are used only during an online session (‘session cookies’) and are not retained once you leave a website, and some cookies are retained and used each time you visit a website (‘permanent cookies‘). However, cookies can be deleted by a user at any given time through the browser settings.
There are two types of cookies: ’session cookies‘, which are automatically deleted after each session and ‘permanent cookies‘, which have a longer lifespan. Both kinds of cookies can be deleted at any given time by the user.
Some content on a Website can be placed by a third party provider (e.g. a news box ticker, a video or an advertisement). Those third parties can also place cookies through a Website and they are called ‘third party’ cookies because they are not the Website owner. Third party providers must of course respect the applicable legislation and typically the policies of the Website owner.
No, cookies are small text files and require very little storage.
‘Flash cookies’, referred to also as Local Shared Objects (LSOs), operate in a similar way to cookies and store preferred settings of players like Flash or Silverlight. In most cases, LSOs cannot be managed by browsers but through special manager tools.