Cookies are pieces of text that websites store on your computer. Once you've visited a site with cookies enabled, it can use those cookies to collect information about how you use its services in order to deliver relevant advertisements or personalize content for you.
The problem is that not all cookies are used in this way: Some websites can use them to track your activity without your knowledge or consent, meaning they may be able to build up a picture of who you are and what your interests are by following which sites you visit—even if they aren't actually trying to serve ads or personalize content (at least directly).
What are cookies?
When you visit a website, it will often install cookies to store information about your browsing habits. Cookies are not harmful in any way and cannot be used to access your computer or personal data. They do not contain any personal information or transmit viruses, malware or spyware.
Cookies can be deleted from your browser if you wish to do so; however, they are usually essential for the operation of many websites (for example: requiring cookies when shopping online).
How do website cookies work?
To keep track of your browsing habits and the pages you visit.
To store your login details, so you don't have to log in every time you visit the website.
To track your online behavior and show you targeted ads based on preferences inferred from this data.
Why do websites install cookies on your computer?
Cookies are used to track user behavior. This is done by assigning a unique identifier to each visitor, which can then be used to identify them as they navigate the website. Cookies are also able to store information about your interests and preferences, so that websites can tailor their content and design according to your tastes or needs.
Cookies also allow websites to monitor how often you go back and how long you spend on their site, which helps them understand what pages of theirs are most popular (and thus which ones they should focus on improving).
Cookies can be used in conjunction with IP addresses (an address assigned automatically by your Internet service provider) or browser cookies—the latter being the most common type of cookie tracked by websites today—to identify users across multiple devices when they log into the same account from different computers or mobile phones at once.
What information can cookies collect about you?
Cookies can store a lot of information about your web browsing habits.
Your IP address: A cookie may contain the website's IP address, which is how computers know where to send information back and forth across the internet. This means that if you're using one computer at home, and then another at work, a cookie will remember which computer has been used in order to track your browsing history as you move between devices.
The URL of the website you came from (also known as where you were on the internet): Cookies also include details about any sites or apps that users have visited recently; these websites each have their own unique cookies stored within them that tell advertisers what sites are popular with their customers (or potential customers).
The time and date of visits made by users: A unique identifier that identifies your device(s), such as an email address or phone number
Can website cookies harm your computer?
Cookies can be harmful if they are not controlled. If there is no control over the cookie, they may be used to track your browsing habits and collect personal information. Cookies can also be used to track your location and to track your passwords.
Types of website cookies?
There are three types of cookies: session, persistent and first-party.
Session cookies are not stored permanently on a user's computer, while persistent cookies are typically used by advertisers or analytics services to track users' browsing behaviour across multiple sites over time.
First-party cookies come from the domain being visited (e.g., if you're viewing an article on BBC News, then bbccookies.com is the first party). Third-party cookies are served by another domain - for example Facebook uses them for its social plugins such as 'Like'.
Browser cookies store data in two different ways: in files called ‘cookies’ which exist on your computer; or through something called ‘local storage’ which saves information directly to your device's memory so it will still be available when you close down your browser (for example when you leave this site).
How can I find out what cookies are installed on my computer?
If you want to know what cookies are installed on your computer, there are several ways to do it.
Use a browser plugin: Find a browser plugin that lists all the cookies that a website has sent to your computer. Then visit the website whose cookies you're interested in and look through them, or filter out certain kinds if necessary.
Use a website: Type "cookies" into Google and see what pops up. There are many websites dedicated to listing cookies; they usually list every cookie sent by each domain name and give some basic info about them (like their expiration date).
Use command line tools: If you're comfortable with command line tools like wget or curl, these can be used for fetching information about particular domains' cookies (or just sending requests directly).
Can I stop websites from installing cookies on my computer?
If you don't want to receive cookies from websites, you can disable them in two different ways. You can either use your browser's settings to block cookies, or install browser extensions that will automatically stop them from being installed on your computer.
Using Browser Settings: If you're not comfortable with installing software on your computer, then this is the method for you. Simply open up the settings menu of whatever web browser you use and look for a section labeled "Privacy" or "Cookies." In here, there should be an option called "Accept Cookies" or equivalent wording. Make sure to check this box if it isn't already checked by default!
Using Extensions: This is the more advanced way of blocking cookies because it requires installing third-party software onto your machine (it's easy though!). However, it also offers more features than just blocking only certain types of cookies like Firefox does by default (which we mentioned above). For example, some extensions allow users to set their own preferences regarding things like how many days old a cookie must be before deleting it from their system completely; others even let users decide whether they want specific types of content blocked at all times including images/videos/media files; still others provide options such as allowing third-party advertisers access into private browsing sessions but requiring permission first before doing so.
Cookies can be a good thing if you know how to control them.
Cookies are not bad—but you need to know how to control them. If you’re using a browser like Chrome or Safari, there are several ways to do this:
Go into your browser settings and look for an “advanced” or “customize settings” option.
Look for an “accept cookies” option in your advanced privacy settings.
Cookies can be a good thing if you know how to control them. For example, if you want to install Google Analytics on your site and need to track visitors, then cookies will help you do that. But if you don’t want websites collecting information about your browsing habits or storing data on your computer, then installing cookies might not be such a good idea after all!