Are Internet cookies spyware?

Updated: 12/20/2017 by Computer Hope
Chocolate chip cookie.

Yes, and no. As mentioned in our cookie definition, a cookie is a small text file on your computer with information for a website you visited. A cookie doesn't keep track of every website you visit or log information you enter into a website.

The only site with access to the cookie file is the site that created the cookie. Also, the cookie file only contains information about you for that site. For example, it may store the last time you visited the page or keep you logged in, so you don't have to log into the page each time you visit.

Unlike spyware, a cookie cannot track everything you do. It doesn't make your computer slow, doesn't generate more advertising, and does not affect your computer's performance.

My anti-spyware program says cookies on my computer are spyware

There are some spyware developers who've decided to include cookies and tracking cookies in their listing of detected spyware. Although some programs may list cookies as spyware, they're not a threat to the computer. However, some people have privacy concerns when tracking cookies on the computer.

A tracking cookie is a cookie on a computer that advertisers use to store unique information about your computer (e.g., your IP address) that help a company identify your computer online. Tracking cookies helps the advertising company that created the cookie deliver ads it believes you'd be most interested in viewing on any site using its advertising network.

It's up to you to decide to save or delete these files. Apart from the potential privacy concerns, tracking cookies pose no threat to your computer.