The next era of interconnected devices such as the wearable medical devices in the health and fitness industry — from the simple fitness trackers for health buffs to the smart apparel that enhances the performance of athletes, has the capability to profoundly improve human health.
Privacy and security issues are mounting as wearable health technology explodes. The rising list of cybersecurity susceptibilities in this sector poses a danger to the patients whose privacy or health management hangs on the proper working of these devices. For example, in June 2015, a cyber attack compromised blood gas analyzers with malware to gain entry to the hospital networks.
Often, the users are oblivious to the security and privacy threats that many of these devices. They expect the designers to build the device precise and secure; they believe that the hospitals have the proper security checks to maintain the safety and privacy of their information.
Most fitness devices sync with a mobile app instead of a conventional website so that information can be collected on a constant basis. Mobile apps also can continue to run in the backdrop, still collecting data, even when the wearable device is not in use. These apps amass as much data as possible, and not just steps, heart rate, and other parameters. Some of these applications are also collecting store credit information and other sensitive data, should the users elect to store it in the app.
A recent study showed that 1 in 5 hardware-based trackers submit user information without encryption, making sensitive data susceptible. Medical information is at a much superior premium than credit information, so it’s vital for mobile health developers to make security a topmost concern. Research Analysts at Market Data Forecast, upcoming market research and consulting firm forecast that by the end of 2023, there will be an estimated 980 million wearable devices on the market, which gives the hackers plenty of incentives to steal such sensitive data
Tackling the security and privacy issues associated with these devices is the key to unleashing the returns they offer to society. It also entails a disciplined and organized approach that includes the design and development of these devices, manufacturing in a protected environment and then the deployment and supervision of these devices, the data they generate and the actions this data drives.
Some of the vital security and privacy Issues related to the Health and Fitness Devices are-
When designing medical devices connected with the internet, a secure hardware and software development procedure that includes code management, automated testing, streamlined packaging, build management, and software delivery mechanisms must be established by the companies.
Organizations must ensure integrity in the manufacturing and delivery of these devices as well as establish a trusted system of suppliers and partners. Each Individual component supplier must adopt a secure design and development procedure to ensure that no accidental malware enters the supply chain.
2.Deployment and Management
Deploying these devices in a reliable way is just as crucial as their design. The deployment procedure should cross-authenticate both the device and the network to make sure that it does not transfer confidential data to a phantom network. Likewise, robust encryption should be employed and all communications networks must be secured to ensure the privacy of the data on the device.
In January last year, the Federal Trade Commission published a report urging the companies to adopt the best procedures to that effect.
Incorporate auditing and mapping of both successful and failed requests for processing, and utilize monitoring and alerting expertise distributed across the set of computing systems. Also required is the detection of DoS and DDoS incidents against devices and the systems that maintain them. Above all else, the system must be designed to do no harm as a consequence of its connectedness. A fail-safe procedure — dropping down capability but causing the system to reach a safe state — must be built into the connected device.
3.Lack of Regulation and other concerns
General health and wellness devices are outside the FDA purview, so there are no set of enforced standards, meaning there is a wide disparity. Manufacturers also set vague privacy policies. Many developers of health technology leave their privacy policies intentionally vague, possibly to protect themselves in the event of an infringement. Some are even spending on data breach insurance to defend themselves.
Due to rising market fluctuations, devices are continuously being announced. But because the users have been known to pick up a product and only use it for a short time before leaving it, many of the companies developing these products go out of business quickly. That leaves an enormous amount of data that the company may then try to trade to third parties, and the users may be oblivious of that potential result.
The outlook for the health and fitness industry is going to be gradually entangled with the rising number of mobile devices linked to the internet. With proper safety, these devices can provide better medical service and decrease the costs of health care, thereby enhancing the quality of life for the users. Adopting a systemic method in fortifying the devices and the information they collect will help keep the criminals at bay and allows the society to drastically improve its health and fitness.
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