Cottage Grove Sentinel | Building a Digital Defense with Health & Fitness App

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against apps that might know a little bit more about you than you realize. 

We are talking about health apps and fitness trackers. The technology is amazing – it can check your heart rate, count how many steps you take in a day – even evaluate your sleep. There is definitely a lot of good that can come out such apps and devices Today, though, we want you to be a little more aware of the information the technology is collecting and give you some simple steps to take to protect your personal information.  

Let’s start by talking about what’s out there. 

Native apps are those that come with your phone’s operating system. They analyze your movements through the day and gather input from your device. Examples of these apps include Apple Health and Samsung Health. 

Hardware-independent apps bring together information that you input, information provided by various fitness-tracking devices that you’ve linked to your account, and informatifrom from your phone to create a profile of your health and fitness. Google Fit falls into this category. 

Hardware-dependent apps analyze data from a specific brand of wearable fitness tracker. The app and the physical device are made by the same company. Examples of this are Fitbit and Garmin Connect.

Because these apps and trackers store personal information about your daily life, it’s important that you secure your accounts. You can choose what you want to share with the world, of course – but here are some options if you are privacy-conscious. 

  • Review your security settings to ensure that you know if your app or device is sharing data with other apps or devices. Also check to see if the device is tracking your location and sharing that info. These settings can change with updates, so check frequently. 

  • Research how to request archives and how to delete your health and fitness data with the wearable manufacturer before beginning to use the device.

  • Consider not connecting your social network profiles to your trackers or apps. 

  • When registering for an account, only provide the most basic information. Consider using initials or an anonymous username when possible.  

  • Only enable connections such as Bluetooth, WiFi, or near-field communication (NFC) when you need to transmit data. Turn the connections off when you aren’t.  

As always, if you have fallen victim to an online fraud, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.

— to cgsentinel.com

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