With the introduction of new mobile devices in every facet of our lives, we have increased our understanding of the environment around us but also within us. A conversation I had with the manufacturer of one wearable wristband at this year’s Mobile World Congress even surprised me regarding the amount of data it collected.
Not only are many of these devices able to extend the functionality of the smart phone, they collect health related and biometric data about the consumer. Need to track your heart rate, and blood pressure in real time? Not a problem, for only a couple of hundred dollars a wristband armed with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will provide the functionality to let you know your heart rate as you try and find out where exactly where your data is going.
Indeed it was that last statement that sent my blood pressure soaring as I began to ask the manufacturer of one particular wristband about the physical location of their cloud service, which was compounded with their inability to explain the security controls used to protect information about their customers.
Beyond healthcare there are a multitude of other devices that not only have the capability, but are also actively collecting data about each of us. I previously wrote about the collection of energy usage undertaken by smart meters, whereby if the polling interval was small enough could even determine what television shows and movies we are watching in our own homes.
Such data is being sent all across the world, and being shared with any number of third parties. Recent data breaches have clearly demonstrated the economic value of our data acting as a driver for cybercriminals to actively target organizations storing such data. As consumers we are not afforded any real transparency about the data collected, how it is transmitted, nor who it is shared with.
Although there are significant opportunities in collecting, analysing and even making recommendations to aid our live, without the basic provisions of trust one has to ask at what cost?