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Are fitness trackers dangerous?

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One of the most popular gadgets today (if we don’t include smartphones and tablets, of course) is the fitness tracker – usually in the form of a bracelet or wrist watch. This small device is so popular that it is used by all types of people, not just athletes. It has now become fashionable to count calories, steps, kilometers, biorhythms, etc. with the help of this wireless tracker. But, as it turns out, things are not all hunky dory.1

A rather worrying report was published back in spring about how quickly around 20 of the most popular models were cracked. For a specialist it proved fairly easy to connect to the devices and steal the information on them. But who would want that sort of information? The fact that someone may find out how many kilometers you’ve walked this week and what your heart rate was doesn’t seem so dangerous. In any case, many people post this information on special resources of their own accord. And many also publish their training schedule along with their daily jogging routes. Do you think this is only of interest to your fellow athletes? What if someone is interested when you are not at home? What if that someone is closely following your schedule and knows when you are out? One day you may return home after training and be shocked to find your cash and other valuables have been stolen. Coincidence?  Highly unlikely. You’ve only got yourself to blame for inviting a complete stranger into your home to take your things. You most probably published some posts about some expensive gear or a trendy electronic device that you recently purchased. And right next to that post there is information about when you’re not at home. It’s just the sort of information a thief wants to know – in fact you might just as well leave your key under the doormat with a note saying where to find it.2

And then there’s your pulse. Have you thought about the fact that many companies use lie detectors? If an attacker manages to find out your normal body temperature and pulse, he could quite easily interfere with a job application or interview. Or blackmail you – demanding a considerable sum in return for letting you successfully pass a polygraph test. But this is the most extreme case. Cyber hooligans are more likely, for example, to make your bracelet continuously vibrate and ask for a small sum to disable it. It happens.

Danger number two is the wireless connection itself. Despite the constant improvements to operating systems and the protocol, Bluetooth remains the weakest link in gadgets. With an always-on Bluetooth module, an attacker can penetrate into the depths of your smartphone and steal your personal information, your banking data or that company secret you thought was securely stored away from prying eyes. For some reason, the installation of security software to combat malware and block unauthorized access to a device is not as popular as buying a fitness bracelet. Of course, the danger on such devices is not as great as it is for other devices, but it exists and it should not be ignored. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

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