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Is your health info safe on a fitness app?

Posted at 1:54 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 04:22:20-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Fitness instructor and nutritionist Shannon Weeks is always on the go. In 2009 the South Florida mom lost 100 pounds. “I pay it forward every day because I’m so thankful I did it, that I could do that”

More than simply working hard at the gym, she credits fitness apps for keeping her on track. “As you start using the apps they become more friendly to you and it’s like a game.”

It’s no secret health and wellness apps on your smart phone can simplify your life by logging your meals and keeping track of you workouts. However, IT experts warn the technology that’s helping you reach your fitness goals can also sabotage you down the road.

“Bad guys are experts at taking the most minor data and mining it for information or to use against you,” said WPTV tech expert and InfoStream, Inc., President and CEO Alan Crowetz.

Most apps ask for things such as your height, weight and goal weight. Some may even ask more personalized questions about your medical history and mental health.

“If that was put up on a billboard on the side of I-95 would you be panicking? So think about the information you are asking because you are giving it to strangers,” said Crowetz.

The information these apps request is all data that’s typically protected under HIPPA laws in the medical field, but when you’re putting it into an app on your smart phone that’s where it gets tricky.

“A lot of them aren’t being audited and checked for that because they consider themselves a software company not a medical practice,” said Crowetz.

So, if your information is compromised there’s really no recourse.

“Don’t assume you’re protected even these days; even companies that mean well are getting breached,” said Crowetz.

Crowetz's IT company ran a quick search using one of my personal email addresses. Sure enough one of the ones I use, MyFitnessPal, owned by Under Armour, shows it was hacked in 2018 exposing 144 million email addresses, usernames, IP addresses and passwords. This year, the data was found listed for sale on a dark web marketplace.

“Worse case they get my health data, big deal. But keep in mind bad guys, a running app they now know when you are outside your house and when you’re alone,” said Crowetz.

As you think about your health goals, experts recommend putting the same priority on security.

“Leaving here I’m going to change my passwords cause I even say to people, they are like: 'How am I going to remember it?’ And I’m like, 'just use what you usually use.' And that’s kind of scary if you think about it,” said Weeks.

MyFitnessPal notified all of its users and made them change their password after the 2018 breach.

However, to see if any of your health apps have been compromised, you can run a quick search using the email address linked to your accounts by CLICKING HERE.