What are cookies?
First, and contrary to popular belief, cookies are NOT programs and so can’t contain a virus. They don’t do anything at all. They are simple ’text files that you can read using the Notebook program on your own PC. Typically, they contain two pieces of information: a site name and a unique user ID.
How do they work?
The good thing about cookies
Some cookies are more sophisticated. They might record how long you spend on each page on a site, what links you click, even your preferences for page layouts and colour schemes. The possibilities are endless, and generally, the role of cookies is beneficial, making your interaction with frequently-visited sites smoother – for no extra effort on your part.
And the bad
So why the paranoia? The answer probably depends on how you feel about organisations – both big business and government – storing information about you. There is nothing especially secret or exceptional about the information gathered by cookies, but you may just dislike the idea of your name being added to marketing lists, or your information being used to target you for special offers. That is your right, just as others are entitled to go along with the process.