In this dedicated page there is also provided detailed information about cookies and useful links where detailed information on this matter can be found.
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Detailed information about cookies
“web 2.0”, cookies play an important role in facilitating access and delivering multiple services which the user enjoys on internet, such as:
• Customization of certain settings, such as: the language that a website is viewed in, the currency used to express certain prices or rates, keeping the options for various options (and memorizing such options) - generating a certain flexibility in navigation, accessing old preferences by using the button "forward" and "back".
• Cookies provide the website owners with a valuable feedback on the way their websites are used, so as to make them more effective and more accessible for the users.
• They allow for multimedia or other type of applications, from other websites, to be included in a certain website to create a more valuable, useful and pleasant experience
• They improve the efficiency of online advertising.
What is a cookie?
An "Internet cookie" (term also known as a "browser cookie" or "HTTP cookie" or simply "cookie") is a small-sized file, made up of numbers and letters, which will be stored on the computer, mobile unit or other equipment of a user who accesses internet.
The cookie is installed by the request issued by de webserver of a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome) and it is completely "passive" (it does not contain software, viruses or spyware and it cannot access the information from the users' hard drive).
A cookie is made of 2 parts: the name and contents or the value of the cookie. Moreover, the duration of a cookie is determined; technically, only the webserver who sent the cookie can access it again when a user comes back on the website associated to that webserver.
The cookies themselves do not require personal information to be used and, in the majority of cases, it does not personally identify the internet users.
There are 2 large categories of cookies:
• Session cookie – these are temporarily stored in the cookie folder of the web browser for it to memorize until the user leaves the respective website or closes the browser window (e.g. when logging in/ logging out from a webmail account or from social networks).
• Persistent cookies – These are stored on the hard drive of a computer or equipment (and in general depends on the pre-established duration for the cookie). Persistent cookies also include the ones placed by a website other than the one visited by the user at the time - known as third party cookies (cookies placed by thirds) - which can be anonymously used to memorize the interests of a user, so as to deliver a more relevant advertising for the users.
What are the advantages of the cookies?
A cookie contains information that relates a web-browser (the user) and a certain web server (the website). If a browser accesses that web server again, it can read the already stored information and react accordingly. The cookies provide the users with a pleasant browsing experience and sustain the efforts of several websites in offering appropriate services to the users: e.g. - preferences regarding online privacy, options on the website's language, shopping carts or relevant advertising.
What is the duration of a cookie?
Cookies are managed by webservers. The life duration of a cookie may vary significantly, depending on the purpose for which it is placed. Certain cookies are exclusively used for a single session (session cookies) and are no longer maintained after the user has left the website, while certain cookies are retained and reused each time when the user comes back on the website (permanent cookies). Nevertheless, cookies can be deleted by a user at any time by means of the browser's settings.
What are third-party cookies?
Certain content sections from some websites can be provided by means of third parties/ providers (e.g. news box, a video or a commercial). These third parties may also place cookies by means of the website and they are referred to as "third party cookies" because they are not placed by the owner of such website. Third-party providers should also comply with the law in force and with the privacy policies of the website holder.
How the cookies are used by other websites
A visit on a website can place cookies for:
• Website performance cookies
• Visitor analysis cookies
• Geotargetting cookies
• Registration cookies
• Advertising cookies
• Advertising provider cookies
We will provide a brief description about each of the cookie categories mentioned above:
This type of cookie retains the preferences of a user from a website, so there is no need to set them each time when visiting the website.
- volume settings for video player
- video streaming speed compatible with the browser
Visitor analysis cookies
Each time a user visits a website, the analytics software provided by a third party generates a user analysis cookie. This cookie tells if such person has visited such website in the past. The browser will tell if a cookie exists and if not, it will generate one. This allows the monitoring of unique users who visit the website and how often they visit it.
These cookies are used by software establishing from which country comes from the person who enters on the website . It is completely anonymous and it is only used to target the contents.
When a person visits a website, a cookie is generated to show if that person is already registered or not. The servers use such cookies to show the account related to a registered person and if such person has permission for a certain service. Also, it allows the website to associate any comment posted on the respective website with the username of such person. If the user did not select "keep me logged in", this cookie will be automatically erased when the browser or the computer is closed.
These cookies allow to find out if a certain user viewed or not an online commercial, which is the type of this commercial and how long it passed from when the user saw the advertising message.
These cookies are also used to target only advertising. There can also be used cookies pertaining to a third party, for a better advertising targeting, to show, for example, commercials about holidays, if the user has recently visited an article on a holiday website. These cookies are anonymous; they store information about visualized content, not about the users.
Advertising provider cookies
A large part of the advertising you find on a website may belong to third parties. Some of these parties use their own anonymous cookies to view how many individuals were exposed to a commercial or to see how many individuals were exposed several times to the same commercial.
Other third-party cookies
On certain pages, third parties may set their own anonymous cookies, with the purpose of seeking the success of an application or to customize an application. Due to the way it is used, a website cannot access these cookies, as third parties cannot access the cookies held by a website.
What type of information is stored and accessed by means of cookies?
Cookies keep information in a small-sized text file that allows a website to recognize a browser. The webserver will recognize the browser until when the cookie expires or is erased.
Why are cookies important for internet?
Cookies represent the focus of internet effective operation, helping with a friendly navigation experience and adapted to the preferences and interests of every user. The rejection or deactivation of cookies can make certain websites impossible to use.
The rejection or deactivation of the cookies does not mean that you will no longer receive online advertising - but only that it will no longer consider your preferences and interests evidenced by the navigation behavior.
Examples of important uses of cookies (which do not require the authentication of a user by means of an account):
• Content and services adapted to user's preferences - categories of news, weather, sport, maps, public and governmental services, entertainment and travel websites.
• Offers adapted to user's interests - retaining passwords, language preferences (e.g. displaying search results in Romanian).
• Retaining children protection filters on internet content (family mode options, safe search functions).
• Limiting the commercial streaming frequency - limiting the number of displays of a commercial for a certain user on a website.
• Supplying more relevant commercial for the user.
• Measuring, optimizing and analytics features - such as the confirmation of a certain level of traffic on a website, what type of content is viewed and the way a user reaches on a website (e.g. by search engines, directly, from other websites etc). The websites run these analyses of their use to improve the websites in benefit of the users.
Security and issues related to privacy
Cookies are NOT viruses! They use plain text formats. They are not made of pieces of code so they cannot be executed, nor can they run automatically. Consequently, they cannot duplicate or replicate on other networks to run or replicate again. Because they cannot fulfill these functions, cannot be considered viruses.
However, cookies can be used for negative purposes. Because they store information on the preferences and navigation history of the users, both on a certain website and on several other websites, cookies can be used as a form of spyware. A lot of anti-spyware products are aware of this fact and they constantly mark the cookies to be erased within the erasure/ anti-virus/ anti-spyware scanning procedures.
Generally, browsers have integrated privacy settings which deliver various cookie acceptance levels, the validity period and automatic erasure after the user visits a certain website.
Other security issues related to cookies:
Because identity protection is highly valuable and it represents the right of each internet user, it is advisable to know what potential problems can the cookies create. Because by means of cookies information between the browser and the website is constantly transmitted, in both ways, if an attacker or an unauthorized person intervenes in the data transmission process, the information contained by cookies can be intercepted. Although very rare, this can happen if the browser connects to the server using a non-encrypted network (e.g. unsecured Wi-Fi network).
Other cookie-based attacks involve wrong settings of the cookies on servers. If a website does not request from the browser to use only encrypted channels, the attackers can use this vulnerability to cheat the browsers into sending information by means of unsecured channels. The attackers then use the information to access certain websites without authorization. It is very important for a user to be careful in choosing the most appropriate method of protection of the personal information.
Advice for a safe and responsible navigation, based on cookies
Here are a few important advices:
• It is important for a user to customize his/ her browser settings with regard to cookies, to reflect a convenient level of security in using cookies.
• If a user is not disturbed by cookies and he/ she is not the only person who uses the computer, he/ she can set long expiry terms for the storage of the navigation history and access personal data.
• If a user shares the access to the computer, he/ she can consider setting the browser to erase the individual navigation data each time when she/he closes the browser. This is an option for accessing the websites, placing cookies and erasing any visiting information when the navigation session is closed.
• Anti-spyware applications should be permanently installed and updated. A lot of the spyware detection and prevention applications include the detection of website attack. Hence, they prevent the browser from accessing websites that could exploit the vulnerabilities of the browser or download dangerous software.
It is important for a browser to be updated.
A lot of the cookie-based attaches take place by exploiting the weaknesses of the old browser versions.
Cookies are everywhere and cannot be avoided if a user wants to enjoy access on the best and largest websites from the internet - local or international. With a clear understanding on the way they operate and the benefits they bring, the necessary security measures can be taken so as to navigate reliably on the internet.
How much space can cookies occupy on the hard drive?
Cookies are small text files that require a very small storage space.
What are flash cookies (or OPL)?
"Flash cookie" refers to Locally Shared Objects (LSO), which operate in the same way as cookies and store the preferred settings for operators as Flash or Silverlight. More often, LSO cannot be managed by browser, but a special tool is required:
The Adobe Setting Manager for LSO using Flash
The Global Storage Settings Panel allows choosing the space on hard drive that websites can use to store information, including for websites not yet visited (from zero to unlimited). If one wants to change the settings for the websites a user has already visited, they access "Website Storage Settings Panel". A user can choose the information storage level for a website or can erase the settings for a website, so that when he/ she will visit it again, the global settings chosen in the Global Storage Settings Panel can be used.
The Adobe Setting Manager for LSO using Silverlight
Open the Silverlight application. Click on the Application Storage tab to see which of the websites uses the storage applications.
The add-on extensions were also created by Firefox (Click&Clean, Objection, Better Privacy).
How can I stop cookies?
The deactivation and refusal to receive cookies can make certain websites unusable or difficult to visit and use. Also, the rejection to accept cookies does not mean that a user will not receive/ see online advertising.
It is possible to set from the browser for these cookies not to be accepted or the browser can be set to accept cookies from a certain website. But, for example, if a user is not registered using cookies, he/ she will not be able to leave comments.
All modern browsers provide the possibility to change the cookie settings. These settings are usually found in "options" or in the "preferences" menu of your browser.