Mental Health Apps Might Not Be Secure.. Or Private

According to Mozilla, 25 out of 32 mental health and religious-based apps tested did not meet Mozilla’s Minimum Security Standards.

The lackluster security and privacy for users is alarming, considering the nature of these applications. Contents of these apps include sensitive and personally relevant information, like mental health awareness topics and prayer. Mozilla found that many of the apps tested shared data, had minimal privacy policies, and targeted vulnerable users with personalized advertisements.

The standards the company used to rate the apps take various security points into account: encryption, vulnerability management systems, password policies and the selling or sharing of user data. If a service doesn’t have these requirements, they are given a “*Privacy Not Included” label.

Mozilla has stated that these types of apps have worse security and privacy measures than any other product category their researchers have reviewed in the past 6 years.

Applications that were reviewed in this particular study include Headspace, Talkspace, Better Help, Calm, among others.

Only two apps on the list had decent levels of user privacy, and those were PTSD Coach and Wysa. Many other applications track and share user’s moods and other biometric data, which capitalizes on a vulnerable group.

This is a good reminder to anyone who uses health or personal care apps to be aware of what sensitive information you’re giving away, and what the cost of that may be. Staying on top of your own digital hygiene and maintaining awareness of the data you give out could prevent your information from being passed around or used for unknown reasons.

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