Fitness trackers are a popular way to stay fit and active for Canadians of all ages. These devices and the apps they pair with are great at helping us stay mindful when it comes to our health, fitness, sleep patterns and so much more. To be effective, these tools often collect information about us and our activities, making it important that we take the time to understand what personal data is being collected, and how it’s being used and secured.
Counting more than just steps…
Some of the data these devices and apps collect is obvious, like step count, sleep cycles and heart rate, and we trust the makers of these gadgets will protect our data and privacy. Sometimes however, additional info like GPS location data may be collected and shared online.
You may have recently heard the U.S. military discovered that GPS satellite tracking data was found to be publicly available, making military movements and the locations of U.S. bases hard to miss. Even if you’re not working on top secret missions, knowing that this kind of info is being collected and shared about you can raise concerns.
Similarly, learning your account has been hacked can be worrisome. The breach of 150+ million accounts of Under Armour’s popular MyFitnessPal app recently made headlines. While no sensitive financial or personal user info was stolen, the millions of email addresses collected are valuable to fraudsters as they can be used for other criminal activities in the future.
Tips to protect your data and privacy without missing a step
|Be mindful of features
While wearables and apps offer many features, you may not want to use or need them all. Review the feature settings to ensure only the features you want to use are turned on and collecting info about you.
|Read the fine print
Many wearables and apps come with a default setting to share all collected data. For example, your contacts, photos and personal information. Take a moment to check your security and privacy settings, ensuring only the info you choose is being collected and shared online and with third parties. Review the device and app security and privacy pages to better understand how the company is using, sharing and protecting your data (Fitbit, Garmin, MyFitnessPal).
|Stay up to date
Install updates released by the device or app manufacturer. They often include important security patches, which help keep your account and data secure.
Doing an occasional security health check allows you to focus on your health and fitness goals without worrying your wearable may be collecting and sharing more than you want.
|Use strong passwords
Always use strong, unique passwords and change them often for added security. A good password is at least eight characters long and includes numbers, letters and symbols.
You can make your password stronger by using the first letters of a phrase, instead of a word. For example: ICARMP2* for “I can always remember my password 2*”