Security Awareness Blog

Guest Blog Post: Health Wearables

Editor's Note: This is a guest Blog Post from Kelli Tarala. This is the first in a series of blog posts from her about wearable devices and healthcare.

Have you seen friends and coworkers wearing wrist bands with blinking lights and wondered what these bracelet-looking things are all about? They are part of the emerging trend in healthcare known as Mobile Health or "Mhealth."

These wearable devices can record fitness activities, as well as monitor sleep patterns, body temperature, and hydration levels. Common brands include the Nike® Fuel Band, FitBit®, Jawbone®, and the Microsoft® Band. These wearable devices are gaining in popularity: in a recent research project from summer 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PWC) health research initiative found that awareness of the staggering possibilities of these mobile health devices is rapidly growing.

While health wearables are still an emerging technology trend, 56% of survey respondents believe that the average life expectancy will grow by 10 years because of the use of these wearable-enabled monitoring. These devices can monitor our vital signs and provide patients and health care providers insight into long term conditions that may lead to chronic diseases. By monitoring and evaluating health signs early, it is likely that these mobile devices will increase the quality of our lives. This is tremendously positive outlook for a nation that is considered to have burgeoning health problems like diabetes and obesity, but using these devices also raises concerns about the privacy of the data being shared cloud service providers.

This a first part in a series on health wearables and mobile applications and in upcoming blog posts, we will look at the risks to consumers' privacy in using mobile health applications. We will examine types of data transmitted via BlueTooth technology as well as privacy risks to storing health data in the Cloud.

Source: HRI/CIS Wearables consumer survey conducted by PriceWaterHouse Cooper Health Institute. This survey can be found at: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/health-industries/health-research-institute/

Guest Editor Bio: Kelli K Tarala is a principal consultant and co-owner of Enclave Security. Her career began in 1994 as a system administrator and technical editor at a pharmaceutical research organization. As a security architect and project manager, she specializes in IT audit, governance, and information assurance strategies. She is a SANS Institute courseware co-author for MAN 415 A Practical Introduction to Risk Management Class and SEC566 Implementing and Auditing the Critical Security Controls - In-Depth. In her spare time, she contributes to Council on CyberSecurity Critical Security Controls project and enjoys running and kayaking.