A new report out of the University of Toronto suggests that users of fitness trackers may be at risk to hackers even when devices and mobile applications are turned off.
Cybersecurity researchers tested how mobile applications and devices upload and store data to manufacturers’ computer servers, according to the CBC News report.
“We found cases where your data is being sent and you might not be aware, and there’s no apparent reason why it’s being sent,” lead researcher Andrew Hilts told CBC News.
Researchers studied popular products from the following brands: Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, Mio, Withings, Xiaomi, Basis and Apple. Each device uses Bluetooth technology which can track a user’s movement even when turned off, exposing people to long-term location tracking.
Some devices can be detected over Bluetooth without even being paired to a phone. Researchers warn that any environment using retail scanning technology, a mall or retail store for example, can track someone’s movement each time they enter the vicinity.
Also alarming, hackers have the potential to alter workout statistics.
Researchers warn that this is potentially harmful when fitness tracking data is used in court cases to prove someone’s whereabouts during the time in question or when data is used for health insurance policy reasons.
Several manufacturers responded by saying that they’ll look into the issues of privacy while others declined to comment on the matter.