Automatic detection of special cookies

How are cookies with unique names and random names detected?

Written by NelsonLast update 4 months ago

Unlike what one might think, scanning website cookies is not an easy task. Sure, it's pretty straightforward when it comes to usual cookies with fixed names. However some cookies are more special than others, therefore we have built some smart features into the Cookie Scanner.

There are two main categories of special cookies used out there. 

Cookies with unique names

Some cookie names are made of unique identifiers, which are different for every website. For example, Google Analytics might set up a cookie with a name  gatUA-xxxxxxx-x. Here xxxxxxx-x is a unique identifier of a client using Google Analytics. 

We have implemented Cookie Scanner to be smart enough to treat those cookies in a special way when categorizing them and finding a proper description. When looking in the cookie database, Cookie Scanner ignores the unique part of a cookie and finds the proper category and description of such unique cookies. 

Cookies with random names

Some popular content management systems generate session cookies with random names. For example, WooCommerce can set up a session cookie that looks like this:


where f919208d949256bc062e5c23e02ba9a2 is just a random string. Such cookies are not suitable for cookie reports since the actual cookie name of every visitor will be different. 

Another issue with random name cookies is that every scanning of website cookies will generate an additional random name cookie. This will make the cookie report grow with time and fill the report with junk cookie names.

Note: The main challenge with random name cookies is to understand which cookie names are randomly generated and do not store them as actual names, but save them as patterns.

The Cookie Scanner automatically detects those cookies and saves them as a pattern in Cookie Report. This is set to avoid new session cookies being added to your Cookie Report after every automatic scanning. In fact, you can even add such a cookie manually, just follow our guidelines on how to make a pattern for random name cookies. For example, randomly generated WooCommerce session cookies would look like this: 


Note: If you found a random cookie that is not detected by our scanner, drop us a line and we will include such cookies to a list of automatically detected random name cookies.

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