But what are Cookies?

Cookies! Did I whet your appetite? They look delicious don’t they?

I hope not, because I’m not going to talk about cookies no matter how appetizing they look. The Cookies I’m talking about are those that all websites ask you if you accept their use.

In this non-technical article I will explain everything you need to know as an internet user! Their origin, what they are used for and showing that they should not have such a negative connotation as they seem to have nowadays.

Hope you like it!

The origin of the name:

Magic Cookie was an expression already used on UNIX systems. It was introduced by programmer Lou Montulli to describe a packet of data that is sent and received unchanged. The term Cookies is a derivation of this system.


Cookies began to be used in practical terms in 1994 and were responsible for introducing the shopping cart in online commerce. Allowing to record the data as the user navigates through other pages of the website. (I’ll explain further ahead).

But what are they?

Cookies are small files that are sent by the websites you visit and are stored in your browser. They allow the website to acquire information about your navigation and provide different experiences. I highlight the following:

  • Store your preferences (such as language, currency or region);
  • Opening a session (login) and keeping it open when changing pages;
  • Store your search terms;
  • Maintain a shopping cart while browsing through different pages;
  • Make payments online;
  • Etc…

Saving some information from your navigation in session or not (I’ll talk more about this in the typologies), they are quite powerful tools when it comes to online development.

Why do I hear bad things about them?

Cookies are often widespread because they are used to collect information from users and are sold to advertising companies that, through them, are able to create targeted ads according to user preferences.

Never noticed this? Try searching Google for “bags” and opening a link or two. On the next sites you visit that have ads available, ads for bags will appear. This is only possible through Cookies.

And is that bad?

I don’t consider it to be. However, there should be a transparent policy on the use of this data. They must be private and the user must be able to know what his information is being used for.

But attention! Cookies do not exist just for these commercial purposes.


There are several types of cookies. Let’s see some of them:

Session Cookie

This type are only present during the “session” of browsing the website. They serve to keep your preferences while you have the site open. They expire normally when you close the browser.

Persistent Cookie

Those of this type, instead of expiring like session ones, remain on your computer even after you close your browser. It is cookies of this type that are able to collect information about your browsing habits, searches, etc. They are also responsible for keeping sessions open on sites like Facebook, even when you close your browser, so you don’t have to log in every time you visit.

Secure Cookies

These cookies are only processed over encrypted connections (HTTPS). Do not transmit any data over unsecured connections.

Thrid-party Cookies

This typology refers to cookies that are added to websites by systems external to them. That is, websites other than the one you are visiting. Have you ever logged in to a website with Facebook credentials? It is through these cookies that this is possible. It also allows tools such as Google analytics to analyze website navigation to provide the respective usage data.

Cookie Law“

Since 2012, Law 46/2012 has been in force in the Diário da República, which meets the privacy principles applied by the European Union. Therefore, that law describes the obligation of websites to transparently disclose their collection of cookies and the use they attribute to them.

It is then mandatory that all websites have a notice that directs them to their policy for using them.

The fines to be applied for violating this law range from €1,500 to €25,000 for natural persons and from €5,000 to €5,000,000 for legal persons.


Cookies are indispensable for the current navigation of websites. It would be impossible not to use them on the most modern websites. Have you ever imagined a store without a shopping cart? Having to “log in” every time you close your browser? Or even every time you change pages? Do you see advertisements for products that show little or no interest in them? A world completely different from the one we live in today.

They are, without a doubt, a very powerful tool for us (all of us) to have a more personal and personalized presence when browsing online.

Do you have a website and want to know how to best benefit from this technology? Or do you need to review your cookie policy? Talk to us.

I hope it has helped you to better understand the world of the internet. Do not forget to comment!

Bernardo Chitas
Bernardo Chitas