IoT and the great data heist

The term mobile has evolved from the device that simply made and received phone calls, to smartphones, wearables and a multitude of devices in the home.

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.

Wearable electronic devices for fitness according to Gartner are predicted to reach 68.1 million units in 2015, all of which are collecting personal and sensitive data about their customers. 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 stolen medical data acting as a driver for cybercriminals to actively target organizations storing such data. No doubt driven by the fact that medical data, unlike payment data is not perishable (after all you can change your credit card number).

The sad truth is that today many consumers of such products are failing to ask even basic questions about how their data will be protected, or used. There is no doubt that proactive health monitoring can provide enormous benefits to society and ourselves, one estimate predicts networked healthcare “could save $63 billion in healthcare costs over 15 years with a 15-to-30 percent reduction in hospital equipment costs ”.

However, without the basic provisions of trust one has to ask at what cost?

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