Personal info could be stolen from wearable devices
DIANA CHABAI, CONTRIBUTOR
Fitbits might track your steps, but hackers can use them to track you.
A new study released in January by the University of Toronto said some fitness trackers – like Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone and Apple products – transmit data even if you’re not in the middle of a workout. That means hackers could potentially track and steal users’ personal information.
Users of any and all wearable fitness tracking technology (including smart watches like Apple Watch and Samsung Gear watches) could be exposed, according to TechRepublic.
Mitch Rear, 18, said he wears both because they offer different features.
“A smart watch is more for business,” he said. “It tracks steps, but it doesn’t do it as well as a real tracker.”
Rear sells fitness trackers and other wearable technology at the Best Buy on Regent Avenue. He wears a Garmin wristband and said he prefers it to other brands because it’s waterproof and has a long battery life. But when asked which tracker brand is the most popular, he said Fitbit has the market cornered.
“Fitbit is the big one,” Rear said. “It’s probably because of the connectability with friends. It’s basically the social media of fitness.”
Shadeen Dion, a third-year University of Winnipeg student, uses the Fitbit app for that reason. She started using it a year ago when friends encouraged her to participate in activity challenges. She said it keeps her motivated. “You can look and see, ‘oh, this person’s only a thousand steps ahead of me.’”
Dion, 20, said she thought about getting an actual fitness tracker to use with the app, but hasn’t so far. “I don’t need added features. Measuring steps is the main thing,” she said. “I have my phone on me constantly.”
In January, Buzzfeed News broke a story about fitness tracker attacks. Hackers logged into accounts, changed usernames and emails and tried to swindle users out of warranty coverage. Dion said the news made her more anxious about getting a wearable device. “My mind goes to the Criminal Minds side of it,” she said.
One of the University of Toronto researchers said because wearable technology is so new, there aren’t many regulations yet, which could be a reason for the current security risk.