Health and Fitness

Protect Your Data. Guard Your Life

Today I heard a fascinating keynote lecture at the AOA Leadership Education Advocacy Development “LEAD” conference. It was titled Security and Privacy in Medicine and Healthcare, given by Marc Goodman, author of the book “Future Crimes”.

All of us have heard in the media over the past year, stories of data breaches and hacking of personal data. Unfortunately this hacking can be directed towards wearable or implantable medical devices, with potentially deadly consequences.

There are many sensors, trackers, and computers that are available to be worn on our bodies, or surgically implanted. Many of these developments have been driven by the “quantified self” movement which employs a variety of methodologies to collect data about an individual’s life. They can track sleep, weight, calories burned, heart rate, brain waves, EKGs, number of steps. The list of measurable data points is seemingly endless.

In general, the purpose of these devices is positive. Theoretically, armed with all of this data and information, people can make behavior changes that will improve their life such as eating less or moving more and sleeping more. They may play important roles in improving health and preventing disease.

As a society and individuals all need to do more however to protect our data. As individuals, Mark Goodman stated that we all need to practice “good computer hygiene”. This involves many commonsense actions such as using more complex passwords or password managers. Updating your computer and antivirus programs frequently whenever available and turning off your computer when not in use.

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