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Cookies are not only used for tracking. Since many internet users fear that cookies might track their data, there are many more reasons for them to be active. While data collection is a big reason, there are plenty of other ones, such as website functionality and performance.
In this article, CookieScript will help you to understand the differences between cookies and list all the different cookies out there. If you worry about your website cookies and how to group them with just one click, you should use the unique Cookie Scanner from CookieScript that automatically scans your website cookies and updates your cookie declaration every month.
Cookies by Party
Before diving deep into all cookies, let’s explore the general meaning. Shortly speaking, cookies are small, often encrypted files that are located in browser directories. Cookies are used by website owners to perform tasks and help with managing the website.
However, cookies can be separated by party – they can either be first or third-party, depending on how they have been created and from which server cookies are being dropped on the user’s browser.
First-party cookies are stored directly on the domain (or website) the user visits. First-party cookies let website owners collect data for analytical purposes, remember user settings, and provide other functions that help to boost the browsing experience for the user.
First-party cookies track user actions and the website host can see the statistical outcome. First-party cookies cannot be used to track user activities on other websites, but only on the original one where the cookie was placed. There are a lot of examples of first-party cookies: they include your sign-in details, your online shopping cart items, and website settings, such as language.
Third-party cookies are stored under a different domain than you are currently visiting. Third-Party Cookies are used to track users between websites and display more relevant ads between websites. An example of Third-Party Cookies can be a support chat functionality provided by a third-party service.
However, in a few years, third-party cookies days could be numbered. Since Google has announced that by the end of 2023 it will officially stop supporting Third-Party Cookies on the Google Chrome browser, marketers must understand how to develop their strategies to be able to advertise without relying solely on Third-Party Cookies.
Cookies by Category
Since first-party and Third-Party Cookies are more or less the same in purpose (they track user actions), there are more purposes for cookies to act than just to track visitors online. Cookies can also be separated by category. Some of them are vital for a website to function properly, while others ensure additional features of websites are accessible.
Did you know that there are cookies that are even impossible to opt-out of? Those are called strictly necessary cookies and there is nothing that the user can do if he doesn’t want them to be active on the website.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly necessary cookies are essential for websites to provide simple functions or to access particular features. Such features include the ability to sign in, add items to your cart in an online store, or purchase stuff on the internet.
Essential cookies usually are first-party cookies and they let users go back and forth between websites without losing their previous actions.
It is important to know that strictly necessary cookies do not require user consent at all – most cookie laws, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), allow strictly necessary cookies to be exempt from collecting user consent before performing their actions.
Performance cookies monitor site performance and follow user actions but they do not collect identifiable information – they collect data anonymously and use it to improve the website. Performance cookies can count page visits, examine how much time a user has spent on a website, as well as analyze loading speeds to improve performance.
Performance cookies are usually perceived as first-party cookies, but in some cases, they can be Third-Party Cookies too. Therefore, third parties can place cookies on a user’s device through a website to determine the best spot for personalized advertisements to be placed.
Functional cookies are mostly used to enhance the performance of a website as without them certain functions may not be available. Functional cookies are not vital for a website to run, but they allow one to remember user preferences and settings.
Remembering such preferences and settings, for example, user location helps to display personalized news stories and weather reports. However, the user must give its consent for this to happen.
Functional cookies can be first-party, third-party, persistent, or session cookies, and they are completely anonymous – they do not track user information across websites, unlike other types of cookies mentioned in this article.
Targeting cookies help to attract customers with targeted ads and also can be shared with other advertisers so that the performance of such ads can be monitored and measured. Targeting cookies also help build user profiles – by tracking data, websites can offer their customers the best-suited ads for their needs and keep ad revenue coming in.
Targeting cookies are almost always Third-Party Cookies. Such cookies follow users from one website to another. In that way, websites can target users by displaying advertising banners on other addresses online even after the user has left their particular site and jumped to another.
Cookies by Security
Finally, cookies can also be separated by security. Every website owner should know that there is more than just one security level when it comes to cookies – it is especially recommended to explain this to your customers on your Cookie Consent banner, if you want to stay compliant with the latest data privacy laws, such as the GDPR or CCPA.
In terms of security, cookies are separated into three different categories: HttpOnly, SameSite, and secure cookies.
HttpOnly cookies carry a cookie flag that is often added to cookies that could contain sensitive information about the user. This type of flag tells the server to not reveal cookie information contained in embedded scripts. Therefore, adding HttpOnly is useful in instances where cookies could be accidentally or intentionally revealed to a third party.
HttpOnly also tells the server that the information contained in the flagged cookies should not be transferred beyond the server. This flag is especially important in protecting secure information that could be compromised during a cross-site request forgery attack or if there is a flaw in the code that causes cross-site scripting.
SameSite cookies are not perceived as separate cookies on their own – they act as a cookie attribute. Such a SameSite cookie attribute is used to control how cookies are submitted in cross-site requests. Current behavior allows third-party websites to access all cookies by default.
In other words, the SameSite cookie attribute is used by browsers to identify how first-party and third-party cookies should be handled.
Browsers can either allow or block such cookies depending on attribute and scenario. The target of such a process is to mitigate the risk of cross-origin information leakage. In that way, your sensitive information can stay safe.
Finally, some cookies have the secure cookie attribute. When cookies have it, such cookies are only able to go through a secure channel when an HTTP request is submitted. Typically, such a channel is HTTPS. This secure attribute ensures cookie’s confidentiality but does not protect from active network attackers completely.
However, this attribute protects cookies from being observed by parties that do not have the right to see them. To find out, if your website has any secure cookies running, you can do that by using the Cookie Scanner from CookieScript. Enter your website address in the box below and see the results:
Your Best Cookie Management Solution
If you want to scan and group all types of cookies that are listed above, you can choose the best cookie manager in the market, CookieScript. Its unique Cookie Scanner scans your website cookies and updates your cookie declaration every month – in that way, users can stay informed about different types of cookies being present on your website.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many types of computer cookies are there?
There are many types of different computer cookies and not all of them collect user information, some are vital for websites to perform certain functions, such as save user preferences and settings. With a Cookie Scanner from CookieScript, it is easy to scan and group your website cookies in your Cookie Banner so users can make an informed decision about cookie tracking.
What information do cookies collect?
Cookies collect various information, including user location, preferences, and activity on a website. Such information can be used to personalize ads for users and analyze the performance of the website. Learn how to do it while using a unique Cookie Banner from CookieScript.
What are cookies on my computer?
Cookies are small, encrypted files that track user movement on websites. Cookies are usually dropped when the user gives its consent. They track user data and provide it to the website’s owner. Then, the data collected can be used for ad personalization and analyzing the performance of a website. The unique Cookie Banner from CookieScript also provides such data collection opportunities.
How do I enable cookies on my website?
To enable cookies on your website, you can do that by using a cookie banner from CookieScript. Once greeted by the Cookie Banner from CookieScript, your website users will be able to either enable or disable website cookies. Moreover, inside the banner, there will be all the required information on cookies so users can make an informed decision on data tracking.