Cookies are small data files, in the form of text and/or numbers, which are saved on your computer, or any other device with an internet browser, by a website so that your device can be recognised next time you access the site. This is done the first time you visit the site. Cookies can be used for a variety of purposes but are generally used to ensure a website works efficiently and to gather/store information about users' online preferences.In other words, cookies make using the internet easier because users don't have to start from the beginning every time. Cookies are passive files and cannot spread computer viruses or other malware.
Websites use information collected via cookies to remember user information and preferences, such as the contents of a shopping cart, whether the user is logged on, how the website is used etc.. Cookies are usually deleted automatically when you close your browser (‘session’ cookies). However, cookies may also be set to expire on a certain date, so that data is retained for a specific period of time (‘persistent’ cookies). Persistent cookies are typically stored on your hard disk. There is also a distinction between first-party cookies (those set by the website the user visits) and third-party cookies (those set by a third party with embedded links on the website the user visits). Third-party cookies are normally set by web analysis programs, advertisers, etc and make it possible, inter alia, to target marketing.