Secure Your Health, Secure Your Data

5 min read

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    The rise of health apps has opened up new possibilities for monitoring and improving our well-being. However, this convenience doesn't come without its share of concerns, particularly when it comes to data security and privacy. In this article, we'll explore the key issues surrounding data security in health apps and how users can protect their privacy while benefiting from these technologies.

    Types of data collected

    Health apps collect various data, from personal information to medical and geolocation data. This information is crucial to providing relevant functionality, but it's essential to understand what apps collect. Here's an overview of the types of data commonly collected:

    1. Personal Information: This can include name, age, gender, e-mail address and other basic identifying information.

    2. Personal Health Information: This can include current physical or mental well-being information. Examples include physical activity, sleep patterns, movement tracking, heart rates, anxiety tracking, etc. They may also collect medical data such as medical history, allergies, medications taken, current treatments, pre-existing medical conditions and medical test results.

    3. Geolocation Data: Some apps may collect geolocation data to provide contextual information, such as the location of healthcare centers, or to track health-related activities, such as walking or running.

    4. Communication data: If the app includes communication features, it may collect messaging, chat and notification data to facilitate interactions.

    As such data is extremely important and personal, it is essential to trust the apps with which we share such data.

    Privacy risks

    Having explored the various types of data that health apps collect to provide useful functionality, it's essential to look at the potential risks associated with the confidentiality of this sensitive data. The benefits of health apps are undeniable, but it's just as important to understand the security and privacy issues that come with them to guard against them. Here are the most important risks to consider:

    1. Sensitive Data Leaks: Healthcare data, including medical history and medical information, is highly sensitive. Security breaches could expose this private information to malicious third parties, leading to serious consequences for users' privacy.

    2. Unauthorized use of data: Data collected by health apps could be used for unintended purposes, such as unwanted advertising targeting, reselling data to third parties, or even identifying users on other online platforms.

    3. Privacy Violation: Unauthorized access to geolocation data, physical activity information or sleep tracking could compromise users' privacy by revealing their habits and routines.

    4. Stigmatization or discrimination: If sensitive medical data is disclosed, users could face stigmatization or discrimination, whether at work, in society or insurance.

    Security measures in place

    Now that we're aware of the potential risks associated with data confidentiality in healthcare apps, it's time to explore the essential security measures put in place by developers to mitigate these risks. By understanding how these apps protect their users' sensitive information, we can make informed decisions to enjoy the benefits of technology while keeping our personal data safe.

    1. Data encryption: Data encryption is a basic measure for securing sensitive information. Developers should use robust encryption protocols to ensure that data is stored and transmitted securely between the application and servers.

    2. Two-factor authentication (2FA): Two-factor authentication strengthens security by requiring a second verification element (such as a code sent by SMS) in addition to the password. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to accounts.

    3. User Access Management: Developers should set up appropriate access levels for users. This means that only authorized persons have access to sensitive data and that each user can access only the information relevant to their use.

    Regulations and standards

    Developers must ensure compliance with privacy regulations like Europe's RGPD or the US's HIPAA by implementing necessary protocols and practices. In Canada, especially Quebec, strict personal data protection rules are established to secure citizens' information. Key regulations include:

    • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA): Canada's primary federal privacy law applies across the country, including Quebec, governing personal data collection and usage.

    • Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector (Quebec): applies to Quebec-based companies, nonprofits, and businesses using personal data for commercial purposes.

    • Bill 25, modernizing privacy regulations: Adopted in September 2021, Bill 25 modernizes Quebec's privacy laws, enhancing individual rights, imposing security measures, and levying fines for non-compliance. The phased rollout from 2022 to 2024 prompts organizations to embrace privacy and data security.

    Tips for users

    Here are a few practical tips for the safe use of health applications:

    1. Read privacy policies: Take the time to carefully read the privacy policies of health applications. We recommend that you include at least some of the following information:

      • Restricted access to accounts, unique device identification, telephone subscriber identity (SIM) and telephone number.

      • Guaranteed right to be forgotten: The privacy policy indicates how a user can access, rectify, delete and object to the information collected about him or her.

      • Contact of the person responsible for data privacy

      • Compliance with data privacy legislation

    2. Use strong passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for each account. Avoid obvious passwords and consider using password managers to make it easier to manage your credentials.

    3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Where possible, enable two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your accounts. This requires a second form of verification in addition to the password.

    4. Manage Permissions: Keep a close eye on the permissions you grant to applications. Limit access to the information the application needs to function.

    5. Update Applications: Make sure the health applications you use are regularly updated with the latest security patches. Updates correct vulnerabilities and security holes.

    6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks: Avoid connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks when using healthcare applications or accessing sensitive information.

    7. Be Selective with Information Shared: Don't share sensitive information, such as social security numbers or detailed medical information, via unsecured channels or with untrusted sources.

    8. Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest data privacy security practices. Awareness and education are essential to protect your personal information. We recommend you refer to our scores on for a simplified approach you can trust.


    While health apps offer enormous benefits for monitoring and improving our well-being, it's essential to understand the issues around data security and privacy. By following the recommended tips and security measures, you can take full advantage of these technologies while protecting your personal information. Remember, awareness and education are key to keeping your data safe in the ever-changing digital world.


    Bill 25:


    Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector (Quebec):

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