The cookie-pocalypse of Chrome
Starting from February 5, the newest Google Chrome 80 browser version is available to download on all major platforms. Along with numerous additions and security fixes, the release comes with one significant change to how the browser operates. Google’s Chrome officially clamps down on third-party cookies.
Cookies - the good and the bad
Cookies are vital cyberspace tools that store users’ information. Specifically, browser cookies are small text files that contain data about your interaction with the website. They do essential tasks - pre-fill contact forms, save logins, and keep things in your online shopping cart. First and second-party cookies are the ones that make your daily browsing convenient and smooth.
Sadly, cookies are not only about increasing the quality of your online experience. Third-party cookies collect data and track users’ behavior. Due to the cookies integrated via tracking scripts or ads, advertising and analytics firms can spy users when they maneuver across the web. This mechanism, which is dead simple, allows hosting sites to serve you with targeted advertisements later on.
Luckily, cookies contain little data and it cannot be associated with your identity in any way. The information typically includes the name of the website domain that sent the cookie, its expiration date, and a randomly generated ID, which identifies you as a returning user.
Phasing out third-party cookies
Google showed a real effort to prevent security flaws caused by cookies vulnerabilities. Not only the third-party cookies are about the invasion of users’ privacy. For instance, bad actors can exploit browser cookies for their advantage and hijack accounts. Chrome 80 browser is here to prevent those situations by enforcing a new secure cookie classification system.
Third-party cookies will have to contain a specific same-site setting that ensures they are being accessed from secure connections. Chrome v80 will only load cookies that are created on the same domain - identical to the first-party cookies. It’s already a huge win for privacy enthusiasts.
If websites do prefer to integrate third-party cookies, the webmasters need to enable a specific setting inside HTTP headers manually. Only this setting can tell Chrome to allow third-party cookies for their visitors.
Google is already developing a new technology called ‘The Privacy Sandbox.’ The project passed its first phase upon releasing the v80, yet, there is a lot more to achieve. Mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete. It aims to become a set of standards for digital tracking that intends to enhance user privacy online. With this intention, Google vows to finish the technology in two years timeline, allowing marketers time to make adjustments accordingly.
Your digital rights matter
Does killing the third-party cookies means a radical revolution in privacy for a regular internet user? Probably not. However, the start is bright - Chrome v80 is here to boost the privacy and security for users going forward.
Instead of accepting the slow security rollouts of your browser, you should take them as a wake-up call to assess and boost your privacy strategies. For this reason, you should consider connecting to a high-quality VPN service before visiting your browser. A VPN encrypts your online traffic, making it impossible for anyone to track. Ready to say goodbye to cookies? Get Atlas VPN here:
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.