If you have browsed the internet recently, you know about the cookie notifications that websites are now required to show. These notifications show up due to the General Data Protection Regulation, which was passed as part of the European Data Protection and Privacy Law. With the increased number of websites showing these notifications, you may feel unsure about whether or not you should accept these requests and if they put your identity at risk.

We take a closer look at cookies in this post to help you better understand how they work and whether they are safe.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are files that websites store on your local hard drive. These files generally contain some text that helps the website recognize certain factors related to you. This can include factors like your personal details, IP address and login data.

In some cases, the username and password you use to sign into the website may be stored in the cookie text file. Certain types of cookies keep data related to your browsing preferences. These are generally referred to as HTTP cookies. The purpose behind these cookies is to better understand how you browse the internet, which helps the website provide a more optimized experience with listings that may be more suitable to your preferences.

The data that a cookie stores is created when you first connect to a specific website. The website creates the cookie file, which is then stored on your local hard drive. As you browse the website, the server may update the cookie file with additional data. Each cookie stored on your computer has a unique ID. This ID helps the website identify the cookie and optimize certain elements based on your browsing preferences.

Why Do Websites Ask For Cookies?

Cookies have been collected for a long time, but there were no notifications that asked your permission to collect data and store cookies for many years. However, only in the last few years have these notifications started to pop up on websites. The main reason for these pop-ups lies within a new law that was passed in Europe.

The European Data Protection and Privacy law announced the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in 2016. The European Parliament and the European Council were the very first to adopt the GDPR as part of the protection laws that were in place for the general public. The regulation requests that all websites show a cookie concept when the user lands on the site. The user also needs to consent to accepting the cookie before the website is allowed to create a cookie file on the user’s computer.

Are Cookies Safe?

Several publications raise concerns about the safety of cookies, with many claiming they can potentially pose a privacy risk. Experts believe that cookies are generally harmless, but it depends on the website you are browsing.

Cookies can actually be helpful in some cases. For example, many websites use cookies as a way of storing a username and password. This allows you to click the “Remember me” box that automatically logs you in every time you visit the website. Some cookies track user behavior, allowing ads and content to be optimized according to your browsing preferences.

Should I Accept Cookies or Not?

The big question is whether or not to accept the cookie consent that the website provides. There are a few factors to consider when trying to decide. Start by considering the website you are on. It is good to look at security measures that the website has implemented, with an SSL certificate being particularly important. Additionally, consider the purpose of the cookie, which is usually be provided on a disclaimer. You can also check the website’s reputation, giving more guidance on how safe it would be to accept the cookie consent.

Since the passing of the GDPR privacy law, cookie notifications have become a common element of websites. This makes people unsure whether they should accept any cookie requests made by a website. Overall, the safety of these cookies depends on the website the person visits. Therefore, always consider the website’s reputation while also looking for elements like a valid SSL certificate.