Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Securing Your Fitness Resolution

With the New Year fast approaching many will soon be focusing on reclaiming the fitness of their youth with a New Year's Resolution. One of the most popular ways to make this happen is with the assistance of social fitness apps that track and share your progress. Connecting your workout to the web is a great way to find motivation and inspiration for what would often be a solo activity. But could posting your fitness activity publicly put your safety at risks?

I always ride with Garmin
Some fitness apps allow you to not only share your completed activity but to also broadcast your location live. You should carefully choose what you share, especially when the general public could learn where you live or see your popular fitness routes. If used strategically these features can actually act as an additional security feature for yourself as you work out. Some people share their routes and live workout with family and friends so they know exactly where they are, just in case they get a flat tire or run into trouble while they're working off last Friday night.

What should you do if you feel like someone is using your fitness information to track your location or bump into you at times you don't expect? If you are concerned for your safety you should first contact your local police department. I also recommend working out with a friend, in person, an actual physical being (not just an online workout partner). Just having someone with you can deter unwanted company. If you're passing through parks, dark streets, or areas you aren't comfortable I suggest changing your route. If you can't change your route then maybe you should work out indoors. But if you insist on working out in sketchy locations maybe you should carry some kind of protection that you can use to defend yourself.

Here are recommended settings for five popular fitness apps to increase your personal security. I'll start with a personal favorite of mine, Strava, which allows you to share your fitness routes, find other athletes you have passed along the route, win KOM segments (King of the Mountain), and even broadcast live activities.
  • Beacon (Premium Feature) - Share your Beacon link with trusted contacts only
  • Enhanced Privacy Mode - Turn On
  • Hide Your House/Office - Enter the address where you work-out most often. Create the widest privacy zone possible, which is 5/8th mile at the time this article was written.
  • Private Activities - Private (default). You can always change the privacy setting as you post your activities. This also prevents accidentally posting those not-so-amazing workouts that you may want to keep to yourself.
  • Social Connections - Only connect social accounts that you are comfortable sharing your activity on. Instagram is a great way to easily import your sexy schmexy workout images; however, this could also help other athletes find you on Instagram if you use the same username. 

  • LiveTrack - Invite trusted contacts only
  • Who Sees My Profile - Only Me or My Connections
  • Who Sees My Activity - Only Me or My Connections 

  • Profile Privacy Level - Private. Do Not Share
  • Allow Other Users To Find Me By My Email Address - Uncheck
  • Routes - Private. Do Not Share (default)
  • Workouts - Private. Do Not Share (default)
  • Sleep & Body Mass Settings - um... choose wisely 

  • My Profile & Badges - Myself Only 
  • My Tracker - Myself Only 

  • Privacy - Only Me 
  • Share Settings - Only connect social accounts that you are comfortable sharing your activity on 
  • Connected Apps - Only connect apps that you are comfortable sharing your activity on

Regardless of which apps you use I recommend that you start with the Principle of Least Privileged. Grant the least amount of access and provide the least amount of information publicly that is necessary to accomplish your goal. Your default settings should always be set to private. If you want to make a particular activity public do that at the time you post it. Share specifics and details with friends and contacts you trust. These tips are especially important for children who use fitness apps. They may not realize the risks of sharing their personal information and location online. 

One other important note: Don't store your payment information in any online or mobile apps. Some apps may require it if you are purchasing premium features. I suggest paying in full up front if possible to avoid storing your payment information indefinitely. If its not there it can't get hacked.

Now go work out!

Here is one of my favorite off-road cycling workouts, 45 grueling miles. Join me if you dare!

Click here for more information on off-road cycling in NE FL.

(This article was originally posted on my Information Security blog, Dragon's Lair Security)

- David W

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