Can Wearable Devices Put Your Security At Risk?

September 15, 2016

Apple announced a number of new product upgrades in September, including the much-anticipated iPhone 7 and a updated Macbook line, according to CNN Money. In addition, the company is also expected to introduce the next iteration of the Apple Watch, which was first released 15 months ago

Many tech companies appear to be betting big on wearable technology, and Apple's own offering showed a lot of promise when it first came out. If history is any guide, the latest version will have more powerful hardware and may be able to complete more tasks independent of the iPhone - which the current Apple Watch generally relies on.

It's certainly an exciting time for fans of wearables. Many users enjoy their ability to keep track of physical fitness and other medical data. However, it is also important to consider the security risks inherent to the platform.

Are wearables keeping your medical data secure?

As wearables become more popular, the Department of Health and Human Services is growing worried about potential gaps in HIPAA, which is supposed to protect patient privacy. According to Morning Consult, the law only applies to health insurance plans and providers, but has no provisions dealing with health technology firms. Wearable users are increasingly collecting more health data and sending it over unsecured networks, and so far no real regulation has been passed to address this security problem.

Making this more complicated is the fact that many fitness trackers and health data services have vague privacy policies that leave the door open for sharing with third-parties. Users may assume that their information is just as secure as it would be when they visit the doctor, but they might be surprised to discover that this is not the case.

Your wearable is probably easy to steal

Let's turn our attention back to the Apple Watch. Though it is far more advanced than your average Rolex, is this device any more difficult to steal?

So far, the answer appears to be no.

While devices like the iPhone and iPad contain built-in security measures - such as pass codes, fingerprint scanners and a GPS that allows owners to pinpoint their location when they have been lost - the Apple Watch contains far less protection. The Verge noted that while Watch owners can use it to find a missing phone, they cannot do the opposite. Many Android Wear smart watches are just as vulnerable, the news source added.

Users should be concerned about how easy it is for these devices to be lost or stolen. Medical identity theft is growing more common, and not all thieves are attempting to steal millions of records all in one go during major breaches. Some are seeking out individual records. Last year, Forbes reported that a piece of health information can be sold for as much as $70 on the black market, compared to less than $1 for a single Social Security Number.

It doesn't take much for your entire identity to be compromised. You may be excited by new wearable technology, but you should also be prepared for the risk factors that are involved with sharing your personal data. That's why Identity Guard is leveraging IBM Watson technology to help you monitor potential risk factors that could affect your identity. Start protecting your identity today with Identity Guard.

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