What are cookies?
Cookies are simple, small text files that contain tiny amounts of information. They are not inherently dangerous and cannot harm you or your computer. They are placed on your computer when you visit particular websites. On the whole, broadly speaking, they are used to perform three types of task:
- Essential cookies. These provide necessary functionality without which the website will not work, for example in the case of shopping cart type websites.
- Enhancement cookies. These cookies are not essential and the website will work without them, however they improve both your experience whilst using the website and often provide the website owner with important information about their website use. An example may be Google Analytics.
- Targeting cookies. These are cookies which follow your internet usage, often across multiple websites. They may track your internet searches, purchases, and other habits so that you may be presented with information pertinent to you personally. An example of such cookies may be with Google Adwords.
Cookies may also be first party (in the case of most web statistics cookies) or third party (in the case of social network cookies or Adwords cookies). This means the primary use of the cookie data is with the website owner, or another party respectively.
Most internet browsers provide the facility to disallow cookies – a simple internet search will provide you with the information for being able to perform this task for your particular browser. Be aware, however, that this function is often non-specific and, in activating it, you may prevent some websites from using essential functionality cookies.
What cookies do we use?