Privacy And Security Risks of Your Fitness Tracker

Many of us are fond of using Fitness Tracker to track our daily activities that include how many steps you take, how many calories you have consumed etc. These devices help you to monitor your health as well as suggest you improve your health. Along with helping you with your health, it also put your privacy at risk.

Most of the Fitness Tracker syncs with your smartphone, from which they can get your personal information like your location, contact, and calendar. These are your sensitive information, which can be dangerous when shared with any other third parties.

Fitness Tracker measures personal health metrics and can expose sensitive information to others, including Facebook, without the user’s consent. Many companies related to manufacturing Fitness Tracker do not share their privacy policy openly with the users, which results in exposure of their personal information. As a user, you should know all the policies related to the Fitness Tracker before you use it, or else if any bad happens, you will regret it.

When Fitness Tracker tracks your heart rate or monitors your sleep or gives you any suggestions, you should be careful because your Fitness Tracker is tracking all of these via apps or your smartphones. They can track other information as well.

Fitness Tracker can be a blessing, as well as a curse. Although leaking of personal information of the user is unethical, some companies do it for their promotion or other things. You must be careful when you use those Fitness Trackers. The terms and conditions, as well as the privacy policy, should be properly understood by the user. 

Health information is the most important and private information of a person. Fitness Tracker helps you to improve your health by indicating critical indicators. But you must be aware of the type of information collected. Is the information necessary for them or not? Does the information help to provide you suggestions? 

Only after all those confirmations, you need to allow your Fitness Tracker to collect your personal information.

Is Hacking Your Fitness Tracker Information Possible? 

Yes, someone can hack your Fitness Tracker as your Fitness Tracker is connected with your phone via Bluetooth, it can extract your sensitive information. Recent studies have shown that the Bluetooth signals that are sent back to your phone can be hacked. Some loopholes that allow hackers to extract the information from your device. 

When the Bluetooth signal is sent back, hackers sniff to the signal, and this helps them to guess your pin. Once the hacker has your pin, it will not be difficult for them to gain access to your private information.  

We have seen many cases where the companies earn a lot of money by selling their user’s valuable personal information. Moreover, some people could check whether you are at home or outside so that they can rob and go without any trouble.

Furthermore, this information is also collected to sell you some sports equipment by giving you some health-related advice. They will influence you to buy the equipment using your personal information but without your consent. 

Is It Possible To Hack Fitness Tracking Company?

As mentioned earlier, selling the valuable information of one user can give you millions of money, then you can imagine how much hackers can earn when they sell the information of millions of users. So, hackers search for loopholes and try to gain as much information as they can, which are precious. 

Furthermore, hackers could even ask for ransom with the company to return the information of their customers. Moreover, if the information is released publicly, your health insurance premium could be adjusted, and they will try their best to earn money.

Nowadays, due to the rapid development of technology, security has been strong and advanced. However, hackers are also increasing their knowledge, and most of the companies having an advanced security system is being hacked.

Data Released For Legal Reasons

Many fitness companies claim that they do not share their information with anyone. But when they are compelled to share by the law, then they give your information to them. Sometimes due to some reasons, the company has to share the personal and sensitive information of its user with the law.

You cannot claim to the company for sharing your information with the law without your consent. So you need to understand that company cannot share the information with anyone except for the law. When the law asks them to provide the information of its user, they will need to give access. 

But your data can be misinterpreted or misused by the law as well. Not all the people bounded by the law need to be honest. Some can misuse your data for their benefit. However, Fitness Tracker also confuses activities such as driving or folding laundry as walking.

Privacy And Security Risks Of Fitness Tracker 

Breach Of Data Might Occur

Almost all fitness app makers have suffered from data breaches. In 2018, a case of a fitness company was revealed. It exposed the usernames, passwords, and email addresses of more than 150 million users.

Hackers often go after those types of data that can be monetized easily, like your credit card numbers, account numbers, etc. So you need to share your personal information with only those companies and organizations you trust.

The Ultimate Data Mine

If the fitness tracker company made transparent about how they share your data or how you should adjust your privacy settings, then as a user, you will not trust those companies or apps.

Sometimes a company will share your data with others for some reason. This may lead to better services as you desire, and sometimes they need to share your data with police for their investigations. However, app makers do not always treat the sensitive information of the user as a top priority.

Furthermore, there are two main ways of abusing your data.

Fitness apps automatically expose data, so users must update the privacy settings within the apps or smartphones.

Those apps may have a vague privacy policy that the users may not understand. They may not have enough information regarding the privacy policy of the apps and the company.

Weak Default Privacy Settings

Most of the Fitness Tracker, like Strava, provides a platform for its users to interact and compete with each other. But for this feature, you need to enable your location, that means where you are right now will be shared with other users.

Once you enable your location, then other users can see where you are right now, they can look at your profile and can even check where you go for running usually. Your home location can also be tracked with this feature. This can be a great advantage for the kidnappers or thieves to do activities for their benefits.

Furthermore, mapping apps also have weak privacy settings because you can get a lot of sensitive information like your location from these apps. So checking the privacy setting of apps is necessary.

Misleading Privacy Policy

As I said before, some companies have a vague privacy policy, which can be difficult for the user to understand. The users may not have enough information regarding their privacy policy. They may say that they will share the information with shareholders and other third parties if necessary, but it may create confusion.

Mostly companies mislead privacy policy to attract the users. If the company clears all the privacy policy, then it will be difficult for the user to trust the product of that company. So to attract customers, the company may mislead privacy policy.

Measures To Reduce Privacy And Security Risks

Read The User Agreement

You need to sign an agreement to accept the services given by the company. Signing in that agreement means you agree to all the terms and conditions of the company.

Before signing, read the agreement carefully. You should know how much data will it collect, where it will be stored, what can be done with the data, how long the data will be stored, and if you will be able to revive that data or not.

After knowing all this information, you need to decide whether you will accept the service or not. You should be sure of trusting the company because you will provide them with your personal information. So, read the user agreement carefully.

What Type Of Data Does Fitness Tracker Collect?

You need to understand what type of data does the tracker collects. More performance parameters require more sensors, and more sensors generate more data. Thus, you need to protect your sensitive information from others.

Moreover, data like the menstrual cycle tracking could allow for a significant privacy breach. So you should know where does the tracker store the data.

Provide Limited Data To The Tracker

The Fitness Tracker doesn’t need to collect all your information. The company should collect only those data which are required for the feedback. You must keep an eye on the apps so that they would not collect the information more than required.

For example: If you want to know about your menstrual period, then it does not require access to your microphone. In such cases, you should say no when you are asked for the access.

Set Up Two- Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication or 2FA is the best way to secure information. This is because your data will be protected by a code. 

A code is generated and sent to a trusted device – let’s say your phone, and to verify your identity, you need to enter the code. Having said that, extra security is worthy than trouble.

Segregate Wearable On Different Network

Like other computing devices, wearables also falls in the same category. You should not ignore the misuse of your data through wearables. 

I would suggest you segregate the devices to their network and avoid connecting it directly to the internet because some IoT devices have a history of poor security. The companies should keep those data to a dedicated network in which many people do not have access to it, such as guest WiFi.

Educate Users

It is necessary to educate users because the companies easily make fools out of them regarding their policy. The users may not know about the terms and conditions of the company, as they can be misleading sometimes.

So, users should know the type of data. However, it seems like your data will store on your phone, but it stores in the cloud. Moreover, the company can share your information with the third party as well. These types of activities clearly state that companies can do anything for their benefit. Users need to be aware of the protection of their privacy.

Limit Access To Employee Fitness And Wellness Data

As said earlier, giving access to most of the employees may be dangerous, so the company should limit access. Those employees whom you can trust for not misusing the data should be given access.

This can somewhere protect the data of users from misuse. So this can be one of the methods to protect personal information from hackers.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Is Fitbit Data Secure?

Fitbit is a secured company if you compare it with other companies. Your data will be encrypted while transferring from the device to the company. This encryption is difficult to crack.

You can run the Fitness Tracker from a companion app via Bluetooth connection. You need to set a strong password to use the app. Furthermore, to secure Fitbit Pay transactions, they use a PIN. 

 Moreover, Fitbit does a good job with privacy and security because it de-identifies the data that is collected to avoid the risk of personal identification.

How Much Personal Information Is Safe To Share?

As we know, Fitness Tracker collects your personal information like your heart rate, sleep patterns, counts your steps, etc. There is a high risk of leakage of your information because Tracker is connected with your phone.

According to the sensitivity of the information, you can divide them into four categories. They are as follows.

Low Sensitivity

Information such as your name, address, and phone number is low-risk information. These are known as low-risk information because leakage of such information may not be a huge concern.

Medium Sensitivity

The information such as your date of birth, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name is the medium risk information. After you are clear of all privacy policies, then you can share this information with the device.

High Sensitivity

The information such as your bank account number, PIN, credit card number, and passwords of other accounts are the high-risk information that should not be shared with anyone. You must keep this information only with yourself. You must think before you share it with anybody. Moreover, you should not trust your family and friends regarding such information.

Other Sensitive Information

Some kind of information, like your place of employment, medical records, employment history, username, etc., can attract thieves or hackers. Hackers use such information in favor of them. Furthermore, they can also share your health records with insurance companies, and this could result in some changes in your health premiums. 

 Final Words

The most private information about your life is the data related to your health. Fitness Tracker helps a lot to track your daily activities and improve your health, but what if someone will misuse them. Your health information gives a lot of information about your private life.

Many hackers hack your data, compile it, and then sell it in the market. Your information cost millions of money, so to gain some profit, companies also sell them. Sometimes hackers even target the companies by hacking their system for ransom.

You must update the privacy settings of your application as well as your Fitness Tracker. Most of the user does not update their privacy setting, which results in exposure of their sensitive information. Hackers always try to find a loophole in the security system to extract all this information and use them for their pleasure and benefit.

Furthermore, you should read all the agreements carefully before you accept any kind of service. When you read the agreement carefully, you will know about the collection of data, storage of data, and also whether you can revive or not. After you are clear of all those questions, then only you should think of taking service. You should be well known for the fact that whether the tracker is asking for unnecessary information or is that particular information really necessary. If the tracker is asking for unnecessary data, then deny from giving access to that data. 

These are some of the risks and measures to reduce the privacy and security risk of your fitness tracker. I hope you find this useful. 

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