NITDA Warns Nigerians Over Mobile Health Apps, States Privacy Risks

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned the citizenry of the country on the use of mobile health applications, as they can be possible ways of stealing personal which may give rise to cases of privacy infringement such downloaded apps.

In a statement issued in its office in Abuja on the 10th of September, 2021, NITDA stated, “This has become more worrisome as current research has revealed that large numbers of mobile health applications are found to encourage data theft, thereby infringing on your privacy,”

“The mobile health applications, mostly available on Android platforms and downloaded through Google Play store, handle increasingly sensitive data over unsecured internet communications and third-party servers. These sensitive data collected pose security threats to users as most of these apps do not only access data, but also share accessed data with third parties.”, the agency further added.

The growing popularity of health apps (telemedicine application) has not been without concerns globally.In a report by the BBC, health apps posed as “unprecedented” privacy risks, which indicates that they’re harmful to users as personal information to medical reports and conditions are no longer kept confidential as it ought to be.

Another report by ScienceDaily warns clinicians and consumers of unprecedented privacy risk with popular health apps.Precautions against privacy and security risks.

NITDA has advised the general public to take the following precautions to prevent privacy and security risks, while using mobile health applications:

•Users should avoid downloading apps from third party source.

•Users should examine apps before they download them, to understand the level of information the app requests for. This can be done by evaluating reviews by other app users.

•Users should read apps permissions before and after installation to protect themselves from data exploitation.

•Ensure apps available for download in Nigeria should have privacy policy that is Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR)-compliant.

•Users can customize the settings, which will potentially restrict the amount of information disclosed to the apps.

•Users must consider downloading apps that offer better privacy protection.Prohibit accessing data over unsecured Wi-Fi network or hotspot.

•Install firewalls and anti-virus to protect against virus/malware-base attacks and malicious application.