Aggregate Information or Data: As a website gathers individual pieces of Non-Personal Information (see definition below) from its users, it may combine similar data from many or all the users of the website into one big "batch". For example, the site may add up the total number of people in Peoria, Illinois, (but not their names) who are seeking information about weight loss and compare that to the number of people in Petaluma, California seeking the same information.
This sort of statistical information is called aggregate data because it reflects the habits and characteristics of a large group of anonymous people. Websites may use aggregate data or share it with their business partners so that the information and services they provide best meet the needs of the users. Aggregate data also helps advertisers and sponsors on the Web know how effectively they are reaching and meeting the needs of their target audience.
Browser: Short for web browser, a browser is software application used to locate and display web (Internet) pages. The three most popular browsers are AOL, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Netscape Navigator. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.
Cache (also called Cache Memory): Once your web browser accesses a web page, it references that page and the graphics on it within your computer's "cache" (or more simply, your computer takes a "snapshot" of every page you visit and stores it in the "cache".) The next time you visit that same page, your download time will be quicker as the images and much of the page is already available on your computer for your browser to reference instantly instead of waiting for the page and images to download again. WebMD Health Manager does not cache pages.
Channel Partner Website: WebMD Health is a contractor and provides co-branded content and services to Channel Partner Web sites hosted and operated by companies other than WebMD Health.
Click Stream Information: A record of all the pages you have visited during your visit to a particular website or the services you accessed from the site or from an email. Click Stream Information is associated with your browser and not with you personally. It records the archives of your browser.
Cookie: A small data file that is stored on the hard drive of the computer you use to view a website. Cookies are placed by that site or by a third party with a presence on the site, such as an advertiser using a Web Beacon (see definition below) and are accessible only by the party or site that placed the Cookie (i.e. a Cookie placed on your computer by WebMD isn't accessed by any other site you visit but a Cookie placed on your computer by an advertiser may be accessed by any site on which that same advertiser has a presence). Cookies can contain pieces of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). WebMD encrypts any PII it stores in its Cookies. These Cookies often are used to make the site easier to use. For example, if you check a box to ask that we store your user name on your computer so that you don't have to enter it each time you visit the site, it's stored in a Cookie on your computer.
Encryption: The translation of data into a secret code. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it. This is typically done by secure computer systems.
Firewall: A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a public or private network. Firewalls can be implemented in both hardware and software, or a combination of both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private portions of public networks. All messages entering or leaving the network pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.
Non-Personal Information: Information that is not traceable back to any individual and cannot be used to identify an individual. For example, Click Stream Information is Non-Personal Information, as is information such as gender, age, city and state when not linked with other Personally Identifiable Information.
Opt-In: Means you are actively indicating your preference to participate in a program, email, feature, tool, or enhancement on a website. Typically, if you "Opt-in" you must provide certain information, usually Personally Identifiable Information, to the website or otherwise actively indicate your choice or preference to participate in the website program. For example, if you wish to receive a diabetes newsletter by email from WebMD Health, you must enter your email address and choose the type of newsletter by checking a box next to a statement such as: "Yes, I'd like to receive a free subscription to WebMD's Diabetes Newsletter."
Opt-Out: Means that if you do not take some action you are indicating your preference to participate in a program, email, feature, tool or enhancement on a website. Typically, if you "Opt-out" you must uncheck a box next to a stated preference or otherwise take some action to indicate your preference not to participate in a program. For example, if you do not wish to receive promotional emails from WebMD Health or its sponsors, you must uncheck the box in your email preference center that states: "Please send me special offers and communications from WebMD and/or its partners that would interest me."
Password: A secret series of characters, typically alphanumeric (meaning it consists of both letters and numbers) that enables a user to access a file, computer, or program. The user must enter his or her password before the computer or system will respond to commands. The password helps ensure that unauthorized users do not access the system. In addition, data files and programs may require a password.
Ideally, the password should be something that nobody could guess. In practice, many people choose a password that is easy to remember, such as their name or their initials. This is one reason it is relatively easy to break into many computer systems.
Personal Health Information (PHI): When your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is combined with known health characteristics. For example, if you indicated that you have a certain disease or condition, when that information is combined with your PII, it becomes Personal Health Information.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (also called Personal Information): Information that can be traced back to an individual (contrast with Non-Personal Information and Aggregate Information). Examples of PII include your name, home address, telephone number, email address, and Social Security number.
If other pieces of information are linked to PII, they also become PII. For example, if you use a nickname to chat online and give out your real name while chatting, your nickname becomes PII when linked with other PII.
Server: A computer that provides services to other computers. A "web server" stores web site files and "serves" them to people who request them.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): A security protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private information via the Internet. SSL works by using a private key to encrypt data that's transferred over the SSL connection. Both Microsoft Internet Explorer (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/Internet_Explorer.htm) and Netscape Navigator (http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/Navigator.htm) support SSL, and many Web sites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. By convention, URLs that utilize an SSL connection start with https: instead of http.
Username: A name used to gain access to a computer system or program. Usernames, and often passwords, are required in shared systems, such as the Internet. In most such systems, users can choose their own usernames and passwords.
Usernames are also required to access some bulletin board and online services such as WebMD Health Manager.
Virus: A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. Viruses can also "replicate" themselves by copying their code to other computers. All computer viruses are manmade. A simple virus that can make a copy of itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt. An even more dangerous type of virus is one capable of transmitting itself across networks and bypassing security systems. There are numerous virus protection programs available. See the "How You Can Protect Yourself" section.
Web Beacons: (also often referenced as "clear GIFs", "web bugs", "1-by-1 GIFs", "Single-Pixel GIFs", "1 x 1 Pixels", or "clear Pixels"): Tiny graphic image files, imbedded in a web page in GIF, jpeg or HTML format, that provide a presence on the web page and send back to its home server (which can belong to the host site, a network advertiser or some other third party) information from the Users' browser, such as the IP address, the URL of the page on which the beacon is located, the type browser that is accessing the site and the ID number of any Cookies on the Users' computer previously placed by that server. Web Beacons can also be used to place a Cookie on the Users' browser.
Last Updated: November 22, 2011
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