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How Can Wearable Technology Affect Your Privacy?

Modern technology empowers and allows us to wear advanced electronic devices on our wrists to make calls, send messages, listen to music, and track our fitness. Smartwatches are an extension of our iPhone and Android smartphones, so they allow us to have many features at our disposal. To connect wearable devices to our phones, we use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks. While this proves helpful, it also introduces a major digital security risk. 

We have little control over who else has access to our smartwatch information while connected to the internet. There are also malicious hackers who target our wearable devices by exploiting internet, Wi-Fi, and device flaws. With this in mind, wearable technology privacy should be a priority. Below, are some ways smartwatches can impact one’s digital privacy. 

    • Wearable technology can reveal your location at all times

Smartwatches and fitness trackers help us track our runs by recording information about our speed, pace, steps, and distance covered. They use geolocation, motion sensors, and accelerometers to log our favorite routes in personal Cloud accounts for future reference. Hackers can gain access to this information and discover our most frequently used running or jogging routes. This private information can put your safety at risk as you exercise and could lead to potential stalking. 

    • Smartwatches are easy targets for hackers

A cheap smartwatch often ships without any built-in security framework which makes it highly vulnerable to hackers. Malicious programmers can get within close proximity and hack into your smart or fitness watch. This can pose a major risk to your privacy due to the connection between the device and your smartphone. Hackers can use your wearable device as a backdoor into your smartphone and view your contacts, photos, videos, financial information and other sensitive information. 

    • Hackers can cause misinformation and endanger your health

Wearable devices provide important data about your health and fitness such as your heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, steps, speed, and sleep habits. This personal data is uploaded into your Cloud account for access by you, and possibly your doctors or fitness trainers. Hackers can manipulate your wearable device and adjust this data to create misinformation. For example, they can artificially increase your heart rate and glucose levels. This can cause your doctor to suspect that you’re suffering from a heart condition or diabetes while you’re perfectly healthy. Not only can this lead to unnecessary prescriptions, it can also cause you to experience real health problems caused by the unnecessary medicine. 

    • Your private data collected can be leaked or sold to third-parties

Smartwatches collect a lot of information about our bodies and exercise activity. This data is shared directly to your cell phone and other devices using a Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi connection. The information is managed through dedicated applications and stored in a personal Cloud account. Most wearable users think that this information is secure in the Cloud, but that’s not usually the case. Depending on the Cloud administrator, this data can be sold, shared, or strategically exchanged with third-party companies. After that, your private preferences can be used to deliver targeted advertisements to you when surfing the internet on your devices. It is necessary to learn how your wearable app shares your personal information, so you can opt out if allowed. 

    • Wearable technology devices can be used to piggyback onto enterprise networks

Modern smartwatches contain numerous advanced features such as music applications, phone call ability, SMS, push email, social networking, and GPS location among others. Therefore, some people wear these wearable devices throughout the day to school, the mall, and places of work. They come built-in with security features to help prevent hackers and other threats from invading the device. Hackers can break into your smartwatch and use your private credentials to gain access to your business network and wreak havoc. That said, avoid connecting your smartwatch to any business or work accounts and networks.

    • Smartwatches do not have multiple factor authentication 

The best way to protect your personal information on a smart device is by implementing multi-factor authentication. This means that your device will ask for a password, PIN, fingerprint, iris scan, or any combination of these. By requiring multiple factor authentication, the device ensures that your data is secure. Sadly, most smartwatches and fitness trackers do not have this option. This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to your private information and more. 

    • There is no anti-malware software for smartwatches

Smartwatches are firmly part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and therefore, suffer from the same drawbacks as other IoT devices. They do not have any software to prevent them from getting infected by malicious software created by hackers. It is easy for hackers to penetrate your smartwatch using customized malware, and steal your private data. Your smart device only has a PIN or password to protect your information, which isn’t as effective as other security features. 

The Verdict

Smartwatches and fitness trackers are categorized as wearable technology and they prove very helpful in our lives. They provide access to fitness applications that help monitor our hearts, jogging distance, and sleep patterns. Despite being so helpful, these devices can weaken our digital security and privacy. A cheap smartwatch can act as a bridge for hackers to use in penetrating your smartphone, home network, or business platforms. Always exercise caution when using your wearable electronic devices in order to protect your personal information.  

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