What is a cookie?
An Internet cookie (also known as a browser cookie or HTTP cookie or simply a cookie) is a small file of letters and numbers that will be stored on a user's computer, mobile device or other equipment from which the Internet is accessed.
The cookie is installed by a request issued by a web-server to a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Edge) and is completely "passive" (contains no software, viruses or spyware and cannot access information on the user's hard drive).
A cookie consists of 2 parts: the name and the content or value of the cookie. Furthermore, the lifetime of a cookie is determined; technically, only the webserver that sent the cookie can access it again when a user returns to the website associated with that webserver.
Cookies themselves do not require personal information in order to be used and, in most cases, do not personally identify Internet users.
There are 2 broad categories of cookies:
Session cookies - these are stored temporarily in the web browser's cookie folder for the browser to remember until the user exits the website or closes the browser window (e.g. when logging in/out of a webmail account or social network).
Persistent cookies - these are stored on the hard drive of a computer or device (and generally depend on the default lifetime of the cookie). Persistent cookies also include those placed by a website other than the one the user is currently visiting - known as 'third party cookies' - which can be used anonymously to remember a user's interests so that the most relevant advertising can be delivered to users.
What are the benefits of cookies?
A cookie contains information that links a web-browser (the user) to a specific web-server (the website). If a browser accesses that web-server again, it can read the information already stored and react accordingly.
Cookies provide users with a pleasant browsing experience and support the efforts of many websites to offer convenient services to users: e.g. online privacy preferences, site language options, shopping carts or What is the lifetime of a cookie?
Cookies are managed by web servers. The lifetime of a cookie can vary significantly, depending on the purpose for which it is placed. Some cookies are used exclusively for a single session (session cookies) and are no longer retained once the user has left the website. Other cookies are retained and reused each time the user returns to that website ("permanent cookies"). However, cookies can be deleted by a user at any time via the browser settings.
What are third party cookies?
Certain sections of content on some websites may be provided through third parties/suppliers (e.g. a news box, a video or an advertisement). These third parties may also place cookies through the site and they are called "third party cookies" because they are not placed by the owner of that website. Third party providers must also comply with applicable law and the privacy policies of the site owner.
How cookies are used by this site
A visit to this site may place cookies for the purposes of:
Site performance cookies
Visitor analytics cookies
Advertising provider cookies relevant advertising
These cookies may come from the following third parties: Google (Adwords, Analytics), Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube without this list being exhaustive.
This type of cookie retains the user's preferences on this site, so there is no need to set them each time you visit the site. Examples:
volume settings for video player
the video streaming speed your browser is compatible with
Cookies for traffic analysis
Every time a user visits this site the analytics software provided by a third party generates a user analytics cookie. This cookie tells us if you have visited this site before. Your browser will tell us if you have this cookie, and if not, we will generate one. It allows us to track unique users who visit us and how often they do so.
Cookies for geotargeting
These cookies are used by software that determines which country you are from. It is completely anonymous and is only used to target content - even when you are on our page in English or another language you receive the same advertisement.
Cookies for registration
When you register on this site, we generate a cookie that tells us whether you are registered or not. Our servers use these cookies to show us the account (User ID) with which you are registered and whether you have permission for a particular service. It also allows us to associate any comments you post on our site with your username. If you have not selected "keep me logged in", this cookie will be automatically deleted when you close your browser or computer.
Advertising cookies. These cookies allow us to know whether or not you have viewed an online advertisement, what type of advertisement it is and how long it has been since you saw the advertisement.
We do not facilitate the combination of personal identification information with those that do not allow such identification, collected through any Google product or advertising function, unless there is a visible notice to that effect, as well as the user's prior consent to the combination.
We also set anonymous cookies through other sites on which we advertise. By receiving them, we can then use them to recognize you as a visitor to that site if you subsequently visit our site, we will be able to deliver advertising to you based on this information.
Other third party cookies
On some pages, third parties may set their own anonymous cookies in order to track the success of an application, or to customize an application. Due to the way of use, this site cannot access these cookies, just as third parties cannot access cookies held by this site.
For example, when you share an article using the social network button on this site, that social network will record your activity.
What kind of information is stored and accessed through cookies?
Cookies store information in a small text file that allows a website to recognise a browser. The web-server will recognise the browser until the cookie expires or is deleted.
The cookie stores important information that enhances the web browsing experience (e.g.: settings of the language in which you want to access a site; keeping a user logged into a webmail account; online banking security; keeping products in your shopping cart).
Why are cookies important for the Internet?
Cookies are central to the efficient functioning of the Internet, helping to generate a user-friendly browsing experience tailored to each user's preferences and interests. Refusing or disabling cookies may make some sites unusable.
Refusing or disabling cookies does not mean that you will no longer receive online advertising - it just means that it will no longer be able to take into account your preferences and interests as evidenced by your browsing behaviour.
Examples of important uses of cookies (which do not require a user to log in via an account):
Content and services tailored to user preferences - news categories, weather, sports, maps, public and government services, entertainment sites and travel services.
Offers tailored to user interests - password retention, language preferences (e.g. displaying search results in English).
Retain child protection filters on Internet content (family mode options, safe search functions).
Limiting the frequency of ads - limiting the number of times an ad is shown to a given user on a site.
Providing more relevant advertising to the user.
Measurement, optimisation and analytics features - such as confirming a certain level of traffic to a website, what type of content is being viewed and how a user gets to a website (e.g. via search engines, directly, from other websites etc). Websites perform these usage analytics to improve websites for the benefit of users.
Security and privacy issues
Cookies are NOT viruses! They use plain text formats. They are not made up of pieces of code so they cannot be executed or run themselves. Consequently, they cannot be duplicated or replicated on other networks to run or replicate themselves again. Since they cannot perform these functions, they cannot be considered viruses.
Cookies can however be used for negative purposes. Because they store information about users' preferences and browsing history, both on a particular site and on many other sites, cookies can be used as a form of Spyware. Many anti-spyware products are aware of this fact and constantly flag cookies for deletion as part of anti-virus/anti-spyware deletion/scanning procedures.
In general, browsers have built-in privacy settings that provide different levels of cookie acceptance, validity period and automatic deletion after the user has visited a particular site.
Other security issues related to cookies
Other cookie-based attacks involve wrong cookie settings on servers. If a website does not require the browser to use only encrypted channels, attackers can use this vulnerability to trick browsers into sending information through unsecured channels. Attackers then use the information to gain unauthorised access to certain websites. It is very important to be careful in choosing the most appropriate method of protecting personal information.
Tips for safe and responsible browsing based on cookies.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you can browse without worrying about cookies:
Customise your browser settings for cookies to reflect a comfortable level of cookie security for you.
If you don't mind cookies and you are the only person using your computer, you can set long expiration times for storing browsing history and personal access data.
If you share access to your computer, you may consider setting your browser to delete individual browsing data each time you close the browser. This is one option to access sites that place cookies and delete any visit information when you close your browsing session.
Install and constantly update anti-spyware applications.
Many spyware detection and prevention applications include detection of attacks on websites.
This prevents your browser from accessing websites that could exploit browser vulnerabilities or download dangerous software. Make sure your browser is always updated to the latest version. Many cookie-based attacks are carried out by exploiting weaknesses in older browser versions.
Cookies are everywhere and cannot be avoided if you want to enjoy access to the best and biggest sites on the Internet - local or international. With a clear understanding of how they work and the benefits they bring, you can take the necessary security measures so that you can surf the internet with confidence.
How can I stop cookies?
Disabling and refusing to receive cookies may make certain sites impractical or difficult to visit and use. Also, refusing to accept cookies does not mean that you will no longer receive/see online advertising.
It is possible to set your browser not to accept cookies, or you can set your browser to accept cookies from a specific site. But, for example, if you are not registered using cookies, you will not be able to leave comments.
All modern browsers offer the possibility to change cookie settings. These settings are usually found in the "options" or "preferences" menu of your browser.
To understand these settings, the following links may be useful, otherwise you can use your browser's "help" option for more details.
Cookie settings in Internet Explorer
Cookie settings in Firefox
Cookie settings in Chrome
Cookie settings in Safari
For third-party cookie settings, you can also consult the following sources:
http://www.youronlinechoices.com/ro/ where you can find more information on privacy issues related to online advertising.
Current ways to prevent data collection by Google Analytics