Are Fitness Wearables Tracking More Than Just Your Steps?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Wearable technology continues to be popular. From fitness trackers like Fitbit to smart watches like the Apple Watch, people are becoming more and more connected. But there are privacy and cybersecurity concerns you need to be aware of before you connect. 
 
Most of these devices connect to your smartphone so you need to consider all of the same things you do with any mobile device.
 
"You should understand what's being collected," said Robert Jorgensen, Director of the Cybersecurity Program at Utah Valley University. "For example, some of these connect to the GPS on your phone. So, they can track your workouts while at the same time it's collecting all of your location data."
 
Another thing that users need to be aware of is while the Bluetooth connection between your phone and your wearable device may be encrypted or protected by a password, some of the data leaving your phone and going to the cloud may be vulnerable.
 
"When you setup your devices, take your phone out of pairing mode, take your device out of pairing mode and then use it. But be aware that someone may be able to eavesdrop on that traffic if it's not properly encrypted," explained Jorgensen.
 
The wearable devices help collect a lot of information about your sleep and travel patterns.
 
Many of the apps on the devices use your phone's GPS to track your movements, something Jorgensen spoke with Good4Utah's Brittany Johnson about.
 
"One of the executives from one of the big wearable companies said that the data they collect in their massive store of information is actually more valuable than their technology." 
 
"...the more information that you put in there, especially through the app, it gives them a better insight of who you are, and marketing companies, advertisers and even product developers are very interested at who's doing what -- it's an amazing market research tool."
 
"Typically, it's the companies that are looking for it to do their data mining on. But if there's someone who is interested in collecting personal data, it's a very attractive target."
 
All of your information is then stored in what's known as the 'cloud' where it could be attacked by hackers.
 
Steps to take to ensure your information is secure:
 
  • Make sure your devices are up to date
  • Use privacy settings that will limit your shared information
  • Be smart about what you share
 
Resources:
 
To connect with Robert Jorgensen, click here
To find out more about Utah Valley University's Cybersecurity program, click here
To make sure your devices are secure, click here

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