The Ins and Outs of 3rd Party Cookies
Anyone who uses the internet has at some point heard the term “cookie.” So what exactly is a “cookie?” No I’m not talking about the things with the chocolate chips in them but rather a “cookie,” as it pertains to the internet, is a small piece of tracking data. Let’s say you visit Yahoo.com; upon visiting the site, Yahoo.com places a cookie on your computer that alerts it if you visit the website again. This is useful because the cookie can save important information such as what pages you visited, your login information so that you do not have to login each time you visit, and any items you may have in a shopping cart on an e-commerce site. This tracking and data storage capability make cookies very useful and make the web-browsing experience more pleasant and seamless.
Cookies come in two types, first party and third party. First party cookies are placed by the website itself such as yahoo.com. Third party cookies, however, are placed on your computer by a different site from the one you visit. So for example if you visit yahoo.com and receive a cookie from webtracker.com then this is a third party cookie and it can be used to transmit your web browsing history to a 3rd party site that can sometimes be malicious.
Fortunately this should not deter anyone from browsing the internet. Over the past few years, internet browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer have been blocking third party cookies from tracking user’s information. The way these browsers have accomplished this is best summed up through an analogy: Let us say that a shopping mall is the internet browser. Each store in the mall is a website and they are allowed to keep records of your information if you shop there. Now let’s say that a third party cookie is a person trying to sell you products who doesn’t have any affiliation to the mall. Fortunately the mall security (the internet browser in this case) will not allow this and kicks the third party cookie out. This makes the internet a safer place and one can browse without fear of being tracked by malicious sites.