WEAR is Your Data Going?

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

No, this is not a grammar lesson – Today we are taking a look at the biggest technology fad since smartphones. Wearable technology, or wearables, continues to gain momentum in the sports, technology, and fashion industries. Everyone has something that tracks something that syncs up with something! I’m talking about the Fitbits, Apple Watches, Google Glasses, and other wearable gadgets that have gained more popularity than the zombie apocalypse. These exciting new “toys” are a lot of fun and provide some interesting information about yourself, but have you ever thought about who else has access to YOUR data? Wearables provide an unencrypted look into our lives for hackers, data miners, and even burglars.

Remember watching TV back in the day and seeing the special agent actually speak into his wrist to his partner that was in another country? That was so cool! And then you’d run outside to play and you would pretend to speak into your wrist like it was a secret phone. That science fiction craziness is REAL now! Smartwatches that sync up to your smartphones provide quick glances into your daily life with features such as calendaring, email, instant message, and even phone calls. Activity trackers, such as Fitbit, provide detailed reports on your daily activity levels. But they also track things such as sleep patterns, heart rate, calories, and even location reporting if they have GPS.

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While having instant access to all of this information on a tiny screen that fits on your wrist, finger, neck, or face (Google Glass) is super cool, it is important to be aware that one in five wearable gadgets are sending unencrypted data (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/02/05/tech-wearables-privacy/22955707/). Maybe you just read a work-related email on your Apple Watch, or your activity levels and location tracking were just sent to an app on your smartphone. And maybe you aren’t the only person looking at YOUR information! Without encrypting the data, these wearables are leaving your world wide open. Hackers are reading your emails, data miners are gathering the information you gave when setting up your profile (address, phone number, credit card number, maybe even social security number), and burglars are paying attention to your location and/or sleep patterns to determine the best time to enter your home.

We live in a technological world where data is worth more than gold. Take a minute to do your research, read the privacy policies, learn about the security on your new gadget, and always be aware of the personal information you are inputting when setting up your accounts. You can’t prevent companies like Target or Home Depot from losing your data, but you can certainly do your best to prevent from giving it away yourself!

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