Cookies in the Web

Web-based cookies are used all over the Internet. Because cookies store information about a user, they allow users to have persistent user accounts, permit online transactions to be carried out, and enable personalized ads to be shown in a browser. Cookies remember an individual based on a generated identification string that is user-specific. This string is stored in the browser and then used by other sites as a source of information for identity and other similar purposes. 

Cookies are often used to create “sessions.”  These sessions then are used to keep track of which users are logged into a website. For example, when a user logs into his or her bank account, the website will then show account information about that user and will only allow that user to perform actions for his or her own account.  The “logged-in” state is made possible by session cookies. 

Cookies are also used to gather information about users. Other information such as the users’ general location or gender may also be included in tracking cookies. For example, if a user has been shopping for shoes on one website, shared tracking cookies can allow other websites to advertise a local shoe store to the user.  

Most websites have a Privacy Policy. This information contained in the policy specifies what information the site gathers from the user, what the data is used for, and other information regarding the site’s associated regulations. To view NAU’s Privacy Policy open the Web Privacy Statement.   

There are options such as safe or private browsing modes in most modern web browsers that can help mitigate cookie tracking. In this mode, the user’s cookies are reset each time the user closes the browser. Select the appropriate browser below for instructions on how to access each browser’s private browsing mode.

Cookies, although abundant on the web, can be removed. Some antivirus software and computer cleaning software will remove these automatically. It is also possible for the user to remove cookies manually. Visit NAU’s Clearing Internet Temporary Files page for more information on how to delete your browser’s cookies. 

Cookies can be disabled permanently within a browser’s settings although many sites require cookies to be enabled for the site to function. These instructions will be located at the browser’s site.


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