The head of the National Center for Cyber Security (CNCS) Pedro Mendonca advises users to actively read the options offered by “cookies”, rather than “blind acceptance”, and advocated that “sites” should be “more transparent” on this.
So-called “cookies” are a type of “software” code that is stored on a computer through a browser (“browser”) and that holds information about a user’s preferences.
“What would I advise? [às pessoas] is that they actually read the choices, rather than blindly accepting, and whatever choices they make with regard to making information available for commercial purposes, eg ‘let it be done on ‘websites’ they deem less reliable, ‘websites’ ‘recognised,’ of trustworthy entities,” confirms Pedro Mendonça, who coordinates the Cyber Security Observatory and works in the development and innovation division of CNCS.
It also adds that ‘websites’ should be more transparent ‘in the information they provide to users in the context of ‘cookies’.
“Cookies” are a normal tool in the use of the Internet, a type of information that is collected in relation to each of the users of the “Websites” so that “cookies” work in a way that is supposed to be more efficient, faster, and more useful. Anticipating each time we “return to the site” previously collected information,” he explains.
There are several types of ‘cookies’, some of which are ‘oriented more towards the purely and simple business performance of the website’ and others ‘see’ to collect information for commercial purposes or so that there is later – when you return to the website – the presentation is more oriented towards user characteristics ‘, says Pedro Mendonca.
In short, cookies, by collecting information about the user – their characteristics, what they do on the visited website – can help the website to tailor a certain type of content to that person.
“What happens is that people often do not act consciously in relation to this reality” and this, like others, “may be vulnerable to abuse, but it is in itself a fact that is part of the Internet’s work,” the official assures CNCS.
Pedro Mendonça asserts that people “often” accept the presence of certain “cookies” on their devices after visiting certain sites “without realizing that they are providing information for commercial purposes”.
This is caused by the “lack of information and awareness of behaviors” present on the Internet and this can lead to a certain level of threat, since there are more trustworthy “websites” than others.
He says users should think about what they are authorizing, and read what kind of “cookies” they want to allow or not.
“People should read and make their own decisions, there is an individual choice,” he continues, because “the more we allow our data to be used, the more we are exposed to that use,” he continues.
Essentially, it is an “individual choice” to allow a Site to use the information for navigation or commercial purposes.
“It’s a choice I have to make, knowing that when I make certain information available it can eventually be used, or not, in an abusive way,” he asserts.
For example, if a user’s personal data is stored in a particular entity through “cookies”, and if that entity is subjected to a data breach attack, it may be exposed.
He argues that “there is a lot of digital illiteracy” and also “I think there is a responsibility that lies with ‘websites'”.
It often happens that there are “websites” that ask the user for “cookies”, but do not clearly offer the possibility to accept “cookies that are essential for the operation of the site”, and refuse those that are used for commercial purposes.
It turns out that even in some cases, he says, there are “websites” that assume by default, if the user does not make a choice, that he accepts all hypotheses.
“There is a combination of individual choice, digital literacy, without a doubt, as well as the responsibility of websites to comply with the law and transparency,” emphasizes Pedro Mendonca.
How does a person manage “cookies” on their devices? This can be done through “browsers” – such as Google Chrome, for example – which in the menu allow you to manage content, including deleting or blocking.
Cookies are a “very special issue of privacy and data protection” but they are also related to cybersecurity.
Until proven otherwise, he says, “cookies are a technical device that supports the usability of the Internet and also favors the need for platforms to know their audience,” in the same way that market studies are conducted.
Earlier this month, the head of the CNPD said that the entity will issue guidelines on the processing of data on “websites”, which include issues related to the use of “cookies”.
The issue of cookies is a matter of the day after Expresso is informed that National Health System (SNS) headlines have provided citizen data for commercial exploitation by Google and other brands associated with advertising, noting that, in addition to collecting traffic data, such as those that have been Collected by Google Analytics, addresses SNS24.pt and SNS.gov.pt data for advertising campaigns through the Doubleclick service.