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Should I Accept Cookies on Every Website?

While modern technology has enhanced over the years, one topic that has some people a little confused is website cookies. New laws in Europe have prompted stricter guidelines when it comes to websites sharing and tracking your data while you surf the web, which is why you may have noticed an influx of cookie disclosures on websites, asking if you accept the cookies agreement.

We know how confusing it can be to know exactly what cookies are and how they affect you, and whether or not you should accept the cookies policy on every website. Here’s some tips for you and your family so you can safely navigate the internet.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are small files picked up from websites that you visit. They are sent to your device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.) and allow your device to remember which websites you have visited or what type of activity you engaged in. This allows websites to serve you digital advertisements about what you are most interested in.

The most popular example of cookies in action is e-commerce sites, where users make frequent purchases. Cookies on these websites will remember which items you added to your shopping cart and then later abandoned or what sale item you were interested in. Websites will then use this information to serve you ads specific to what you viewed or what actions you completed. You will suddenly receive ads for more brown boots to purchase or unique Christmas gifts on Amazon that you browsed through. This information is used with the goal of getting you to purchase or interact with other brands down the road.

Additionally, cookies can be used to help your device remember login credentials. If you create an account on a website, and enter in your email and password, you will sometimes be asked if you want your device to remember your login credentials. Cookies will store this information, and the next time you visit the website, your login credentials will be readily available.  

Why Do I Need to Accept the Cookie Policy on a Website?

Two regulations were passed in Europe: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive. Both regulations are privacy laws enacted by the European Union and were intended to help protect the data of users on the internet. Additionally, a similar law went into place in California called the CCPA law, with other states (like Illinois) considering similar legislation.

In the most recent years, we have seen companies use data like never before. Companies can mine a lot of information about users, so these regulations were to help put control back in the user’s hands. This is where the cookie acceptance policies come into play. Going to a website, and choosing whether or not you accept their cookie policy, is a way to choose which websites can use your data and which ones cannot.

Is it Safe to Accept Cookies on Every Website?

For the most part, accepting cookies on a website will not result in any catastrophic event. However, something to take into consideration and be wary of is when a website asks if you want your device to remember what your login credentials are for that website. While this would make logging into a website more convenient, it could potentially pose a problem if you are recycling passwords or tend to create extremely easy passwords, as hackers could easily find that information in a data breach and your personal information could put you at risk.

When You Should Not Accept Cookies

Even though accepting cookies on websites is (for the most part) safe, there are some instances where you should not accept cookies on a website. Here is more information:

When you’re on a site that you are unfamiliar with or is “sketchy.”

If you are on an unencrypted website (older websites that have an unlocked icon by the web address in the search bar) and on public Wi-Fi, this could be a recipe for disaster. The information collected by cookies could be intercepted by hackers, as public Wi-Fi is a streamlined way for hackers to get your information.

Third-Party Cookies

When you are on a website and a pop-up cookie disclosure mentions third-party cookies, always click “decline.” Third-party cookies allows the website you are visiting to sell your data, and it is best to keep the cookies (if you want to, that is) contained to one website.

If you are disclosing private information

If you are disclosing private information on a website, and they ask if you want to accept the cookies policy, it is best to pass and decline. Because this personal information can be used to access accounts, such as your bank account, you should keep that information away from the data-mining websites.

 

Here at Blackhawk Bank, we want to make sure you and your family can surf the web with peace of mind. With many people working from home and kids using the internet for school-related activities, it is important you take precautions for your family and be vigilant in protecting your information.

If you want to learn more about Blackhawk Bank and how we can help you, contact us today!

 

Author: 
Brian Mertens 

Network Engineer

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