Can a smartwatch be hacked? The answer is yes! Smartwatches are very much prone to hacking. When we talk about security, it is unlikely that small wearable devices will come to your mind. A lot of people will imagine security to be associated with computers, social media platforms, and physical security e.g. use of padlocks. But small wearable devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches are very much prone to hacking.
You may wonder what exactly is so unique about fitness trackers that could be attractive to hackers. Well, fitness trackers contain your data and a lot of them are designed to be connected directly to your smartphone. Hackers can use this wireless Bluetooth connection to hack your phone. Your workout data on the fitness apps can also be useful for fitness companies to understand your mobility patterns. They can use this information to try to sell you some sport-related equipment.
The Privacy Risks of Your Fitness Tracker
While fitness trackers are really useful for undertaking fitness activities, they are, unfortunately, very much prone to serious risks of privacy such as hacking. Believe it or not, your health information is one of the world’s most private data. Doctors even take oaths not to disclose someone’s health information to other parties besides the patient, this includes family members as well. Fitness trackers can capture and share your health information.
Some of the data fitness trackers can capture and store include: The time you wake up and sleep, the distance you walk each day, your weight, blood pressure, and the number of calories you intake each day. The key advantage of best fitness trackers is that they make you aware of your overall health by showcasing these critical indicators. You can then use this information to make certain choices such as the food to eat, the exercise to perform, and whether or not you need to see a doctor.
A lot of fitness trackers connect to your phone via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, Bluetooth happens to be an insecure means of communication. Hackers can leverage this to gain access to your health information. Any kind of information is valuable to someone else. It has also been claimed the companies like Facebook and Google compile and sell user information to make their billions of dollars.
As much as you may think your user information is insignificant, hackers know how to leverage your health data and market it somewhere, particularly on the dark web. Your health information is also valuable to researchers, insurance companies, and advertisers. Besides gaining access to your health data, other potential fitness tracker privacy concerns you may have when your fitness tracker is hacked include breaching your home address.
What happens to your information when a fitness tracker company decides to sell its business? When this happens, one of the most valuable assets the company will sell will be customer data. But in most cases, the data privacy policies will remain the same. There shouldn’t be much concern about the transfer of ownership from one management to another.
Wearable Technology Security Issues
Besides fitness trackers, other wearable technologies like smartwatches are increasingly becoming prone to security issues. This is because they contain personal data that are appealing to businesses. Companies use this data to win more market share. Below are some potential areas of security concerns for wearable technologies.
It is easy to gain access to their data: Wearable devices normally store data in local devices without any encryption. This is risky. A lot of these technologies are not protected by either a PIN or password nor do they contain any biometric security or user authentication. This makes the data they contain easily accessible to hackers.
They can capture videos, photos, and audio: A lot of wearable technologies have video and audio surveillance. These can capture confidential information which is susceptible to hacking.
They use insecure wireless connectivity: Most wearable devices are designed to connect to smartphones and tablets using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC. Wireless connectivity is insufficiently secure and poses a potential risk as hackers can easily tap into the network and gain access to your phone and confidential data. To secure the network, it is great to gain visibility on how many devices and networks you have connected to.
They lack encryption: Lack of encryption is a very serious security issue with data on transit when it is synced and stored on the manufacturer’s cloud database. Third-party apps could neglect basic security standards and transmit the information which is not encrypted.
Lack of regulation and compliance: Security issues are normally addressed by the manufacturers who sometimes neglect the government regulation and instead self-regulate. This can sometimes lead to a data breach.
Some Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies do not cover wearables: Wearable devices work differently from smartphones, and therefore, they are likely to encounter unforeseen circumstances and new security risks that are not addressed in mobile policies.
With all the above security issues, you may wonder how accurate are fitness trackers to make companies rely on the data they provide? Experts say they are useful and accurate enough for most people. But this also depends on what fitness tracker you are using and what you are trying to measure. Most fitness trackers measure your heart rate, track your steps, estimate the calories you burn, show you how many hours and slept, and provide useful information about your overall health.
According to the experts, fitness trackers provide accurate results you use them to measure your steps. But the steps could be undercounted especially when you are moving slowly. For more accurate results, wear your smartphone in your pants pocket. Other things a more accurate smartwatch measures include your heart rate, which greatly varies during exercise, and the number of calories you burn.
All in all fitness trackers offer a lot of benefits in terms of tracking your fitness journey. They are however prone to some security threats given the kind of wireless technologies they use. This fact should not stop people from using these amazing devices. People and organizations should be careful enough and provide proper management to these wearable devices.