Mary Levin, UW News and Information
The researchers cobbled together gadgets that could track the whereabouts of people using the system, which wirelessly syncs a sensor in jogging shoes with a user’s iPod.
Scott Saponas, an avid jogger pursuing his doctorate in computer science, bought the system and started wondering about its potential security risks.
“It is easy for someone to use the Nike+iPod as a tracking device,” he said in a UW news release. “It’s an example of how new gadgetry can erode our personal privacy.”
In a paper posted online today, the researchers suggested people who use the Nike-iPod system turn it off when they’re not exercising so it won’t keep sending signals.
Saponas worked with grad students Jonathan Lester and Carl Hartung and assistant professor of computer science Yoshi Kohno.
“There’s a bigger issue here,” Kohno said in the release. “When people buy a toaster, they know it’s probably not going to blow up when they plug it in. But when they buy a consumer device like the Nike+iPod kit, they have no idea whether the device might enable someone to violate their privacy. We need to change that.”