Cookie Files Explained
What is a Cookie File?
Cookie files are small text files that contain code that Internet browsing software uses to record how you arrived at a site and the actions taken within it. They might also store user name details for that specific website, remembering those details for the next visit.
The cookie file allows the website that stored it to identify the user and to provide that user with an improved browsing experience which may involve providing them with products that they recently purchased from the site or providing topics that they may be interested in from previous activity.
The cookie from a website is automatically stored by the Internet browsing software to a predetermined location that are summarised below for the main Internet browsers:
For Windows 7 the cookie files are stored individually at:
For Windows 8 the cookies are stored at:
For Windows 10 the Cookie files are stored at:
For previous versions of Windows, the Cookie files are stored at:
Google Chrome stores Cookie files within an SQ Lite database file named Cookies at the path:
C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\
Mozilla Firefox stores Cookie files within an SQLite database file named Cookies at the following path:
Safari stores Cookie files within an XML file named Cookies.plist at the following path:
Common Types of Internet Cookies
There are different types of Cookie files that serve different purposes. Some of those commonly encountered are summarised below.
These types of cookie files remember what actions and activity a user has taken whilst the browse the website during that session and when the window is closed, the session cookie is automatically deleted.
Without these types of cookie files, each new page within a website would lose any action taken on the previous page, for example the items within a shopping basket etc.
First party cookies are stored by the website being visited and allow them to remember your login details, settings and preferences from a previous visit and they are not removed until the expiration date set within the cookie itself.
First party cookie files can also be used by websites to track movement and user activity.
Third party cookies are stored by a different website to the one being visited.
A third party cookie is used to track a users browsing activity, including websites visited and the activity taken on those websites.
The existence of these types of cookie files mean that the mere existence of a cookie file on a computer is not definitive evidence that the user intentionally accessed the website relating to it, as is often suggested within criminal cases.
Due to the main purpose of third party cookies they can be specifically blocked by most of the main Internet browsing applications through the settings menu.
The EU Cookie Directive
The European Union launched the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications in 2002 which required websites to provide information about how the cookie data is used and the user is given the possibility of denying the storage of it.
Under the EU Cookie Directive, consent to accepting the storage of a cookie file must involve communication where the user is able to accept the storage of the file.
About Athena Forensics
For information on our digital forensic services or if you require any advice or assistance please contact a member of our team on 0845 882 7386 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, further details are available on our contact us page.
Our client’s confidentiality is of the utmost importance. All correspondence is treated with discretion, from initial contact to the conclusion of any computer forensics investigation.
Our digital forensics experts are fully aware of the significance and importance of the information that they encounter and we have been accredited to ISO 9001 for 10 years.
Our forensic experts are all security cleared and we offer non-disclosure agreements if required. Our premises along with our security procedures have been inspected and approved by law enforcement agencies.
Athena Forensics do not disclose personal information to other companies or suppliers.