Fitness trackers: is your data protected?

Advances made in technology has made it possible to measure and analyze our lifestyle activities such as exercises with the aim to improve it. It has been made possible by the quantified self or what most of you would refer to as self-tracking. But, how safe is your self-tracking?

Currently, there have been security risks that have been associated with a large number of tracking devices. The reason behind the insecurity is due to the social factors and technological advances. Furthermore, stored personal data in this devices is also vulnerable to attacks.

How do different fitness trackers ensure the safety of data inside the tracker itself? What can we do as users to ensure that additional layers of security are added? Before looking at security concerns, we have to understand what quantified self-care.

What does self-track mean?

Self-track is technological devices that use the concept of collecting and analyzing data to track every aspect of human life. The fitness self-track are used by people to monitor progress in heart rate, exercises among other health-related activities.

It is important to note that a report prepared by ABI indicates that the number of wearable computing devices such as self-track devices will increase by approximately 485 million devices annually in 2018.

The huge number of people wearing the devices from top manufacturers including Samsung, and Fitbit that track their daily movement, have raised the question on safety of the devices.

How is your data tracked?

The fitness self-track may come in many forms. Smartphones are currently everywhere. They have many different inbuilt tracking sensors.

Also, most of them have self-tracking applications and due to the inclusion of sensors such as accelerometer, heart rate sensor, GPS and gyroscope they can be converted into an effective self -tracking devices. The applications used have the rights to store read and interpret the data extracted by the sensors.

Another fitness self-track devices are the wearable. These devices can be worn on the body and can also be attached to sports equipment. Wearables have sensors such as gyroscope and accelerometers that generate data.

 

Why are fitness self-track devices hacked?

The use of sensors such as GPRS makes these devices to be prone to attacks and hacking. The information that is extracted from the devices include the distance that you cover within a specific period of time; time that you go for a run; where you go running; age, sex, weight and height; the heart rate; where one lives; your attitude; when and where you go for a vacation.

This information is a goldmine for most businesses that would like to lure you into buying some of their items. Besides, the information is also essential for criminals.

The ease with which personal information is extracted from these devices is alarming. Reports indicate that an estimated 20% of fitness self-track apps were seen to transmit their passwords openly. 52% of these apps lacked policies that govern privacy.

So, what kind of security do they offer?

Type of security

Most manufacturers who provide cloud-based tracking system use the current technology of encrypted protocol. An example is the HTTPS to transfer data.

Out of all the manufactures, only 4 providers are known to take extra caution when it comes to security issues. Despite their efforts to keep data intact and ensure that it remains unaltered, some scammers and hackers still succeed.

It is even more disappointing to realize that even novices of hackers can easily extract information from the self-track. This is because the devices lack end to end encryption or any other tamper protection measures during synchronization of data.

Furthermore, the data stored in some of the fitness trackers that allowed synchronization of data was in plain text a form that is available for hackers to use whenever they want to.

Therefore, it is up to you to ensure that your sensitive data is protected and that no people are tracking your every move. Below are some tips on how you can protect your data.

How to protect your self-track from hacks

Make sure you turn off the WIFI and the Bluetooth connection. Do this every time you are not using them as they can transmit signals which can be used by the tracker.

If you are a person who likes having hundreds of apps in your phone, It is time you redefined your behavior as you should be careful with what that app is going to do with your data.

Some wearable such as MoveC300 watch can sync with smartphones, an iPad or iPhone device. They do not do it automatically and you will have to press the sync button when in need of transferring data from one device to the other. Such a feature makes these watches hard to hack.