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Cookies have gotten a bad wrap over the years. There are many misconceptions about what a cookie is and what it does. Cookies are not something that is places onto your computer in order to spy on you and watch everything you do. They are not capable of functioning on their own like a computer program. They do not transfer your personal information to websites. Cookies are not viruses or spyware, however sometimes when using an anti-spyware program some cookies may be blocked. This is due to the fact that some cookies keep track of things such as how often a user visits a particular webpage.

The term cookie may seem a little odd, as we all know cookies are sweet baked goods that are enjoyable to eat. However, the name cookie was derived from a concept that was developed by UNIX computing. The term was barrowed from the term “magic cookie”, which was where the idea for cookies originated. Cookies are simply small bits of text created by a website. The cookies are stored onto the users computer by different websites that are visited.  Cookies can be stored individually or as a single cookie depending on your web browser. The use of cookies is both a benefit to the creator and the user. Cookies store information about how the user uses the website.


This is a very important part of how we use the internet on a day-to-day basis. Without cookies the process of using the internet through Hypertext Transfer Protocolor HTTP would have no ability to remember what sites you have been to and which ones are new. Some of the most common uses for cookies include storing information about each user’s specific preferences, shopping cart, authenticating, storing information about the user, maintenance, changing banner ads,personalize or customize a webpage for different types of web browsers. In most cases websites ask for the users consent prior to installing a cookie. While some might find cookies to be an invasion of privacy at times, they actually serve many good uses.


Cookies can be used to increase security as well as improve the user experience on different websites. Some positive examples of cookies are on websites such as Bank of America. When you visit their site for the first time on a computer that you have never used before, the webpage takes some specific security measures. First the website asks you for your user ID and state of residence. Once entered the site takes you to a page that will randomly select one of your predetermined security questions. The site then moves you to a third page where you will enter your password. This process is for your protection and is put into place to prevent fraud. Through this initial visit the website installs cookies onto your computer. The next time you visit the Bank of America webpage the cookies will remember some of the stored information. With the cookies enabled, your user name will be remember on the front page, you just click enter. The site then takes you to a second page where you will enter your password. This process is not only a benefit to Bank ofAmerica in that they are taking security measures to prevent fraud. But it is also a benefit to the user, as you will save time and energy entering this information.


Another great example of cookies being out to good use is on eBay. Recently eBay has introduced a new form of cookies to their site. The cookies keep track of your past searches on the website and store information about them with cookies. On your next visit to eBay you will find that on the homepage there will be what looks like a standard advertisement for items available, yet they will be items that you have previously searched for. This idea is not only helpful to eBay itself, but also to those who are selling and buying on eBay, creating a more user-friendly experience.


Cookies are of great importance for the overall experience of internet use. While some may find that cookies are invasive and obnoxious, they really serve a very functional purpose. Cookies are a valuable tool and will continue to be used in new and exciting ways to help websites learn more about their customers as well as increase user satisfaction.