Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

Inside the Digital World of Cookies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cookies and Digital Privacy

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • In the online world, digital cookies hold a significant role, contributing to personalization and user convenience.
  • These unobtrusive lines of code, quietly stored on devices during website visits, shape the online experiences we encounter.

Understanding How Cookies Work

  • Cookies as Digital Keys: Think of cookies as keys to an exclusive club. Just as a club bouncer recognizes regular patrons, cookies remember your login details on websites, eliminating the need for constant re-authentication.
  • Enhanced Online Shopping: Websites like Amazon leverage cookies to remember your past interactions, offering tailored product recommendations and an intimate shopping experience.
  • Persistent Shopping Carts: Online shopping carts, fueled by cookies, ensure your selections remain intact even after you leave the site, simplifying the checkout process.
  • Personalized Advertising: Platforms like Facebook and Google utilize cookies to track online behaviour, serving ads aligned with your preferences.

Types of Cookies

  • Session Cookies: Temporary, session cookies function as post-it notes for websites, existing only in your computer’s memory during your browsing session.
  • Persistent Cookies: Comparable to bookmarks, persistent cookies remain on your device after your browsing session, retaining login information and preferences.
  • Secure Cookies: Sent over encrypted connections, secure cookies are employed for sensitive data like login credentials.
  • Third-Party Cookies: Originating from domains other than the visited site, third-party cookies serve tracking and advertising functions, offering both benefits and potential intrusiveness.

Multifaceted Uses of Cookies

  • Digital ID Cards: Cookies facilitate user authentication, allowing websites to recognize and keep you logged in.
  • Personalization: They remember your preferences, such as language choices and website themes.
  • Persistent Shopping Carts: Items added online remain accessible upon your return.
  • Analytics Data: Cookies enable website owners to gather valuable data about user interactions for improvements and customization.
  • Targeted Advertising: Advertisers employ cookies to display ads aligning with your interests, enhancing online shopping experiences.

Challenges Associated with Cookies

  • Privacy Concerns: Cookies can track online behaviour, occasionally infringing upon digital privacy.
  • Security Risks: Inadequately secured cookies may expose personal information to cybercriminals.
  • User Consent Era: Privacy regulations necessitate websites to seek user consent before deploying specific cookie types, resulting in pop-ups and prompts.
  • Third-Party Cookie Debates: Concerns about third-party cookies have led web browsers to limit their usage for user privacy protection.
  • Data Deluge: The multitude of cookies can potentially overwhelm your browser, causing a sluggish web experience.


  • Complex yet Sweet: Cookies enhance online experiences but also bring privacy and security challenges. As the digital landscape evolves, so will the use and regulation of cookies.
  • Analogous to Real Cookies: Just like warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies, digital cookies add a personalized touch to your online adventures, even if they occasionally leave behind a few crumbs.

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