Fitbit Vulnerability Raises Activity Tracker Concerns
Data from the devices could be tied to insurance and healthcare costs in the future…
An article review.
While we try not to cover “exploit of the week” style articles here (other sites do a far more comprehensive job on that subject!), we thought a recent article on an exploit concerning Fitbit devices stood out because of the deeper questions it brought up about all the data we (and our devices) generate, and how it may be tied together.
The exploit itself, discovered by University of Edinburgh researchers, was rather mundane. Requiring a person have direct physical access to the devices in question greatly limits the scope of an attack, and the data gathered was personal but not particularly damaging.
What is interesting is the questions the article poses about where all this activity monitor data goes, and how it may be compiled and cross-referenced in the future. Because this type of data is rarely considered confidential, many people are indifferent to policies that dictate how that information may be stored and used–after all, who has the time to worry if their daily step count falls into the wrong hands?
In a future where activity tracking and a person’s relative activity levels are tied to insurance and healthcare costs, however, the implications of such data–and its collection–start to become more clear. If that weren’t enough, there are a physical ailments that can be identified or associated with how often and the manner in which we move, and then there’s just being able to identify when a person is awake and what they’re doing.
Combined with data harvested from sensors in our smartphones and watches, along with ancillary data from Internet-of-Things devices like light bulbs and an interested party could begin reconstructing someone’s daily activities, among other things.
We often overlook such data and the policies surrounding its collection because it can be seen as inconsequential: it doesn’t tell a third party anything specific. As this article highlights, though, every little bit can help build a narrative, and we often lose sight of just how many little bits we can leave floating online.
Original article by news-medical.net.