Wearables and Privacy: What you need to know

by June 29, 2022 0 comments

The adoption of wearables technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers has grown immensely in the past few years. The popular wearable devices in the market provide users with a ton of advantages, including staying connected, monitoring their sleep patterns, measuring their exercise, and accessing other health information.

Almost every other person on the street area using it even growing more conscious of the fact that they need to carry a fitness tracker every day to track their activities and health fitness. In fact, according to research firm International Data Corporation India (IDC), the wearables market in India actually had record-breaking double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2022, with shipments surpassing 13.9 million devices.

It is sure that this technology will keep on growing, specially among young generations due to its numerous advantages, however it might me not so suitable when it comes to digital security and privacy of personal data.

Wearable devices collect a lot of information. But what happens to the information after it’s collected?

It may not stay on the device at all, and that paves the way for a complex network of vulnerabilities of systems that expose data that many users would prefer to remain confidential.

“By connecting a wearable to an extended ecosystem, one is exposing a larger attack surface,” said Aiyappan Pillai, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Senior Member.

“Cybersecurity experts look at this as a supply chain that includes a data generator, an analytics engine and a service provider. Each link in the chain, including the connecting networks, presents a potential risk,” he added.

Most criminal intrusions of computer networks have a financial motive. That may lead people to conclude that wearables have a low cybersecurity risk. But wearables data, especially in healthcare settings, is often tied to financial information.

“Depending on the organization from which it was obtained, stolen health data can be extremely valuable because it often includes so much personally identifiable information – including birthdays, email addresses and other login information, that can be used for identity theft purposes,” said (IEEE) Senior Member, Kevin Curran.

Hospitals, for example, might maintain extensive databases of personally identifiable information for billing purposes. Hence the rise of wearables, implants and other connected devices adds a new dimension to cybersecurity risk.

How to tackle the problem in such devices?

Some security features that consumers should look for include “strong multi-factor authentication methods for device access, which may be biometric, such as fingerprint voice recognition, iris recognition, passwords and location-based authentication.

Also, App designers need to ensure user-friendliness while incorporating security measures that cater to all categories of users, including older patients that may not have familiarity with newer technology.

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