Be careful! A period tracker app might have leaked your data
Health apps — especially period trackers apps for those of us who menstruate — are a pretty standard and very helpful part of our lives in the smartphone era. Trust me, I know.
But anytime we input our personal information into a mobile phone, as opposed to sharing intimate details during an in-person conversation with a doctor, we must be wary of data breaches. While, thankfully, all problems have been corrected, popular period tracker app, Glow, was recently found to have some security issues.
All period tracker apps, Glow included, prompt you to record some sensitive information: sexual habits and activity, sexual health, abortion history, medication, birth control methods, gynecological disorders, etc.
And some recent Consumer Reports findings detailed vulnerabilities granting potential hackers access to users’ email addresses, inputted medical and sexual history, emails and passwords, as well as messages sent through the app.
Due to the very intimate nature of what potential hackers could view, Consumer Reports wrote:
“We concluded that it would be easy for stalkers, online bullies, or identity thieves to use the information they gathered to harm Glow’s users.”
But the good news: Glow quickly corrected the flaws creating these vulnerabilities, instructed all users to changer their passwords just to be safe, and acknowledged the importance of organizations like Consumer Reports for helping to keep their super helpful app as safe as possible.
The Daily Dot received a statement from Jennifer Tye, head of Glow’s U.S. operations, that read:
“The industry only gets stronger with white hats who are looking to protect consumers. Once informed, our team immediately worked to address and correct the potential issues and have since released an updated version of the app… Of the more than 4 million users across our apps, far less than 0.15% of our users could have potentially been impacted, but there is no evidence to suggest that any Glow data has been compromised.”
That’s a HUGE relief.
But we still must acknowledge the privacy dangers inherent in health and wellness apps, and certain problems within that industry so we keep our most personal information safe.
An article by the Washington Post pointed out that these apps are not required to follow HIPAA — which is the law that prevents your doctors from releasing any of your personal medical data without your consent. Health apps also do not have to work with the FDA.
This isn’t at all to say that you should go and delete your apps — I know I am definitely not deleting mine.
Plus, we know that these kinds of apps can have wonderful impacts on people’s lives and health. Still, we must always be careful in this technological era — and change your Glow password if you haven’t already!