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Cookies are everywhere online. They follow you around across almost every site you visit. Different browsing habits create different types of privacy and security risks, but what does this mean for different groups of people? What does it mean for you? To highlight these risks, we're sharing six real individuals' stories to help illustrate just how pervasive cookie exposure can be.
These figures represent six individual experiences and may be different for other similar internet users. However, they serve as a useful picture of the risk levels different types of internet users may face.
We’ll have a specific breakdown for each user’s risk profile further below, but here’s what our researchers found about the sites they visited:
We’ve got more info about cookies below, but first, let’s meet our heroes…
Six real people volunteered to share their real browsing data with us to build this research project. In addition to hiding their identities, we’ve invented new ones for them to make it easier to compare how they did on our Cookie Quest. Here are our heroes:
Based on the risks each individual faced online, our researchers came up with a list of recommendations for them to stay secure online:
Cookies are a normal and necessary part of the internet. Without them, you couldn’t log into a website or fill your online shopping cart. Too many cookies, however, can become a threat to both your security and privacy. Here’s how:
This is why managing cookies is important – we can’t live online without them, but too many can be a risk.
Let’s take a deep dive into the types of cookies each user gathered. As we mentioned, not all cookies are equal.
We asked six individuals to share their daily browsing practices with us. Participants were recruited through an agency, which provided the anonymized results. We didn’t receive any identifying information, and URLs were reduced to domain names.
Each participant provided the domains they accessed on two consecutive days in June 2021 and answered a few basic questions about their interests and awareness of cookies. When presenting the results, we further anonymized some sites such as specific schools or other sites that might provide too much detail around localized or otherwise identifiable data.
The domains visited by participants were run through a cookie scanner and the results were examined for types of cookies. This provided:
This gave us 3,958 cookies across 230 sites. From this data, we calculated:
We analyzed how people share their personal devices and what measures they take to protect themselves and their family members online.
Thousands of users tested their cybersecurity-savvy. Find country rankings and average scores in different demographics.