The Price of Wearable Craze: Personal Health Data Hacks

Maggie Overfelt | | December 12, 2015

Insulin pump and infusion set (Source-Wikipedia)Technology pioneer isn't a role people associate with former vice president Dick Cheney, but technology security experts today give his medical advisory team props for a move made back in 2007 — disabling the wireless capability on Cheney's pacemaker. The act was, of course, a cautionary effort against any entity that might have tried to hack it to cause Cheney harm.

This is old news — Cheney revealed the story in 2013 during an interview on 60 Minutes — but in a year when the world's largest technology, medical device and health-care firms are betting big and fast on wearable technology's role in delivering patients a more precise and cost-effective way to manage their health, experts are worried that the pace of updating data-privacy laws and building infrastructures with optimal levels of security doesn't match the speed of the market's technological rollout.

The risks to consumers depend on what type of device they're wielding. In rare instances, weak links or endpoints in a cloud-based network powering something like a wearable insulin pump could be life threatening, as it opens the door to hackers tampering with them. On the privacy side, personal data culled from all types of wearables — namely, fitness trackers — are finding their way to employers, insurance companies and the black market, resulting in a range of grievances, from higher insurance premiums to identity theft...