Health apps – could your data be breached?

Health apps – could your data be breached?

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Apps are being created all the time that allow people to monitor their health and fitness. By monitoring our health, it allows people to have a greater control on their life.

But are we exposing ourselves to data breaches when using these apps? How secure is our data really?

Period trackers

There are said to have been as many as 200 million downloads of period tracking apps worldwide. This allows women to have more control over their menstrual cycle and can help influence them when making decisions.

Period trackers come up second in the health and fitness category to running. A search for a period tracker will throw up lots of options, varying in design and suitability for different devices.

Period tracker apps are also used for some women to monitor their fertility.

These apps are generally not classed as medical devices as that would involve stricter regulations, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist warns they should not be used as a form of contraception.

Women in Mexico and Brazil have been showing a keen interest in the apps recently due to concerns with the Zika virus and fears of getting pregnant during the outbreak.

Family planning apps

More people are becoming interested in apps that help with family planning.

Ida Tin, a Berlin-based Danish Entrepreneur, is the creator behind an app called Clue and wants to use women’s data as a way to help with future family planning.

She is building this app on a responsible approach and has collaborated with researchers at Oxford University. She says she “can’t do what her users want her to do unless I use their data.”

Healthcare and data breaches

The healthcare industry is already the worst for data breaches, and with people’s information being sold on to third parties, this has a value for advertisers.

A data breach can mean a person’s most personal and intimate data becoming available to anyone who can get their hands on it, making it a very distressing situation. If information is to be sold to third parties, a pregnant woman could be a very profitable thing for businesses considering everything a baby needs.

Sam Smith, a privacy campaigner at medConfidential, said:

“For all medical apps, but especially contraception apps, there needs to be a source people can trust that’s independent and says this app is safe for you.”

In a digital age where so many apps are free, and where people don’t read the terms and conditions, it might be worth asking if you are paying for it with your data.


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