When you think of cookies you probably imagine sweet sugar cookies or rich chocolate chip, but in terms of computers unfortunately this is not the case. Browser cookies, otherwise known as an HTTP Cookie, is a small segment of data used by websites to remember certain data when you visit them. Having websites store data about you may sound like a bad thing, but it is not as awful as it seems. Cookies can often lead to a better online experience by making your internet navigation more efficient. Let’s go over in greater detail what cookies do exactly, what ‘flavors’ they come in, and when they can be good or bad.
What do Cookies do?
Cookies are used to store personal information needed on the site locally. Back in the good old days when internet online shopping was not as simple as it is today, an item being placed into a cart required an action had to be recorded somehow. Thus, the Cookie was created! They are primary used in three main ways now-a-days.
When you are on a computer, especially your personal one, you would expect a certain amount of privacy when it comes to passwords, bank info, and where the gold you buried three years ago is located.
What is Spyware?
So, what is Spyware? It is a form of malicious software that looks at what you are doing on your computer or mobile device. It aims to gather data on the person or organization it is targeting without consent and without the user's knowledge. Spyware, (like Adware, Trojans, system monitors and cookies which are all forms of spyware) collects information about your surfing habits, browsing history, or personal information (such as credit card numbers), and often uses the Internet to pass this information along to third parties without you knowing. Spyware can also be referred to as tracking software for this reason.
Now this is some seriously sci-fi stuff... But we can start at the beginning.
There was a time not too long ago where there was a sure, fool-proof way to secure your servers, computers and even entire networks. A way that would mean the end to worrying about nasty hackers. As old as time, the method is called Air-Gapped Security. This was where you would have a gap of air between the system and the rest of the network. Now when I refer to ‘air’ I mean in the sense that there is nothing connecting the machine to the world. There is no direct network connection from the internet or a large network to this machine. This is a terrific way to isolate a network or a device on your network that needs to be very secure. (Backups of important documents or codes are a fitting example of this and the stock market, the military/government and many industrial powers use air-gapping as a result.)