Fitness trackers are wearable devices that monitor physical activity, including heart rate, steps, breathing, and other metrics. While they might seem harmless to the user, these devices can easily turn into a vulnerability. It’s common for hackers to target fitness trackers as a doorway to larger systems. Most fitness trackers lack adequate security systems. This leaves users’ data completely exposed to third parties and cybercriminals. Here’s what you need to know before you put on a fitness tracker again.
One of the first fitness trackers that gained attention back in 2008 is the Fitbit. It was a small clip-on that could track physical activity metrics. Ever since this debut appearance, many brands have come forth with their own versions of fitness tracking devices. Consumers liked the idea of being able to monitor and record their physical activity and health situation. So fitness trackers started selling like hotcakes.
These small wearable devices come in handy when it comes to measuring physical performance while training. However, people nowadays use fitness trackers while doing their daily activities, not only training at the gym. The trackers are used to measure calorie consumption and maintain a healthy weight while accomplishing daily fitness goals. The newer and more advanced fitness trackers have the ability to track and record sleeping patterns. Thus, many people are wearing these devices while they sleep as well.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals noticed that most fitness trackers lack adequate security. Due to poor security systems, fitness trackers can expose passwords. They even pose a security risk for larger enterprise networks. Manufacturers are well aware of the security disadvantages of fitness trackers. But their updates and security fixes are far from bulletproof.
One way fitness trackers can threaten enterprise security is through the cloud. Trackers can send geolocation data minute by minute directly to the cloud. This exposes the location of the company or the individual. It is important to mention that not all fitness trackers are risky. But the majority of these devices don’t come with built-in security systems. The less advanced fitness trackers that only monitor biometric activity and share it via Bluetooth are not that harmful. While Bluetooth connection can easily be intercepted, this type of data isn’t very useful for hackers.
Besides fitness trackers, users should be careful when using smartwatches as well. They are far riskier when it comes to cybersecurity because they send and receive more valuable data. Newer and more expensive smartwatches that feature LTE connection are the most dangerous type of wearable technology. These LTE connected watches can operate away from the smartphone, which makes them an easy target for cybercriminals.
Now that we’ve established that fitness trackers can pose a threat to data and device security, we’re going to look into potential solutions. Naturally, the best way to reduce the risk is to reduce the amount of time you’re using the device. Whenever you’re not using the tracker, turn it off and disconnect it from your smartphone. That way, you will make it impossible for hackers to intercept the connection between the two devices.
As for the times when you want to use the device, installing a virtual private network app is a great security measure. If you get a VPN for Android (get it on Play Store), it will encrypt all of your connections. It works as a second layer of protection, guarding your smartphone against hackers trying to access your data.
Besides, a virtual private network will allow the user to browse the internet anonymously and thus enjoy a higher level of privacy and security. Other benefits of using a VPN include masking your IP address, virtually changing your location, as well as accessing geographically restricted content from anywhere in the world.
To secure your data and devices, even more, make sure to enable two-factor authentication on your accounts. Not every app or service offers 2FA, so make sure you use hard to guess passwords on all other accounts. Keep in mind though, that reusing passwords is worse than using “12345”. So give password managers a try – they can generate strong passwords for you and keep them safely encrypted.
It is important to look into even the smallest threats. It doesn’t matter if you only want to secure your personal devices or ensure better enterprise security. Fitness trackers might seem harmless at first. But these devices can cost companies thousands of dollars worth of data. While hackers are not interested in people’s fitness activities, they target fitness trackers to use them as a doorway to larger systems.
Therefore, it is important to take suitable safety measures to ensure your data and devices are completely secured. Reduce the amount of time you’re using the tracker. And make sure to enable two-factor authentication, use a VPN, and set up a password manager.