Browse Definitions:
Definition

data exhaust

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Data exhaust is the data generated as a byproduct of people’s online actions and choices.

Data exhaust consists of the various files generated by web browsers and their plug-ins such as cookies, log files, temporary internet files and and .sol files (flash cookies). In its less hidden and more legitimate aspect, such data is useful to improve tracking trends and help websites serve their user bases more effectively. Studying data exhaust can also help improve user interface and layout design. As these files reveal the specific choices an individual has made, they are very revealing and are a highly-sought source of information for marketing purposes. Websites store data about people’s actions to maintain user preferences, among other purposes. Data exhaust is also used for the lucrative but privacy-compromising purposes of user tracking for research and marketing.

Data exhaust is named for the way it streams out behind the web user similarly to the way car exhaust streams out behind the motorist. An individual’s digital footprint, sometimes known as a digital dossier, is the body of data that exists as a result of actions and communications online that can in some way be traced back to them. That footprint is broken down as active and passive data traces; digital exhaust consists of the latter. In contrast with the data that people consciously create, data exhaust is unintentionally generated and people are often unaware of it.

Security and privacy software makers struggle with the conflicting goals of marketing and privacy. User software designed to protect security and privacy often disrupts online marketing and research business models. While new methods of persistently storing tracking data are always in development, software vendors constantly design new methods to remove them.

See Michelle Clark's TEDx talk about digital footprints:

This was last updated in April 2015

Continue Reading About data exhaust

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • intrusion detection system (IDS)

    An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a system that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity and issues alerts when such...

  • security information and event management (SIEM)

    Security information and event management (SIEM) is an approach to security management that seeks to provide a holistic view of ...

  • polymorphic virus

    A polymorphic virus is a harmful, destructive or intrusive type of malware that can change or 'morph,' making it difficult to ...

SearchHealthIT

  • accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties ...

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in...

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close