We use a technology called “cookies” as part of a normal business procedure. Cookies are small text files that are created by a web server and stored on your computer when you visit a website. They don’t do anything i.e. they are not executable code and can only be read by (you and) the website that created them. You can view and edit the cookies on your computer like any other text file using a text editor (the contents are usually just strings of unique identifiers and date/timestamps). The website that created the cookie can read the contents when you are at their website.
Cookies are widely used across the internet: you may have hundreds of cookies on your computer at any one time. Each browser has its own set of cookies so, if you run multiple browsers, you will have multiple sets of cookies on your computer.
In the past, cookies have had some bad press. Much was due to a general misunderstanding of what cookies are and how they work but some was due to justifiable privacy concerns relating to 3rd party tracking cookies. These cookies are used by advertising websites and track a web user across multiple sites. The good news is that all modern browsers allow you to easily block 3rd party cookies.
All the major browsers allow you to block cookies and delete those that have already been created on your computer, usually within the ‘Tools’ section of the browser. These tools allow you to specify which cookies you will accept by type and often by specific websites using an exception list e.g. you can block all cookies and then list the website from which you will accept cookies. There are also a wide choice of browser add-ins that you can install if you wish greater control over persistent cookies.