Garmin Instinct Series

Garmin Instinct Series

Garmin
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

These chonky outdoor focused smart watches come in regular, solar powered, a tactical version, a camo version, and even a surfing version. They don't have the fancy touch screens, but they do track all sorts of information about your sleep, stress, heart rate, hike, workout, and help you find your way home if you get lost in the woods. They are rugged and cool. I only say that because this is the smartwatch your favorite *Privacy Not Included reviewer owns and loves. Thanks Garmin for doing a good job keeping my health data all to yourself.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

When your *Privacy Not Included researcher wanted to get a fitness tracker, Garmin is what she went with. Garmin seems to do one of the best jobs handling the privacy and security of all the personal data fitness trackers collect. They did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. Ransomware attacks suck and it seems no company is safe from them these days.

Garmin says they don’t sell your personal data to anyone. This is great. Garmin also seems to do a good job with what data they do share, which doesn’t seem to be too much. They ask for explicit consent before sharing things like location data for navigation purposes and emails for marketing.

Garmin may share or sell de-identified aggregate data collected by the Garmin Connect app with third parties to do things like make their features better or for research purposes. This doesn’t worry us too much. Although now is a good time to remind you that it’s been found to be pretty easy to de-anonymize some types of data and track down an individual’s patterns, especially with location data. If you’re worried about this, you can opt out of using the Garmin Connect app, you’ll just lose a lot of cool data about your sleep, stress, and menstrual cycles if you do.

Is our researcher happy with her decision to get a Garmin fitness tracker? Yes, she is. Although it does make her a little nervous that she now leaves her phone's Bluetooth on all the time. But hey, knowing that body battery score is really cool!

Tips to protect yourself

  • Be very careful who you chose to share your Garmin wellness data with.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in the Garmin Connect app to suit your comfort level.
  • Don't connect your Garmin app to any social networks like Facebook.
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: No

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Garmin clearly states they don't sell your personal information to anyone. They do say they may share or sell de-identified data collected by the Garmin Connect app: "From time to time, we share or sell activity data in a de-identified and aggregated manner with or to companies that provide Garmin and our customers with content or features for the purpose of enhancing the quality of the content or features they provide and with or to other third parties for research or other purposes." Garmin says they will only share most other forms of data like wellness data with wellness program provider, location data for navigation purposes or emails for marketing, with your explicit consent.

How can you control your data?

Users can delete their data from their devices at any time. Data provided to companion apps and servers is retained for as long as the user’s account is active. Users can delete their data from the companion apps and services at any time.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

They did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. No user data was compromised during this attack.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Garmin has an easy to find list of all privacy policies. The privacy polices are relatively simple to read.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Garmin devices and apps use a combination of asymmetric and symmetric encryption appropriate to the nature and function of the product, and data stored/transmitted.

Strong password

Yes

In order to use companion apps, an account with a strong password is required.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Garmin use Machine Learning (ML) to provide personalized insights to customers who wish to receive them as they pursue their fitness and wellness goals.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Garmin says in their privacy policy, "Garmin does not make any decisions based on algorithms or other automated processing that significantly affect you."

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes


News

Stop Leaving Your Smartphone's Bluetooth On
Lifehacker
Bluetooth is a handy feature that allows you to easily connect up your various devices, whether you’re trying to get your new wireless headphones to talk to your Android phone or connecting your Apple Watch to your iPhone.
A Cyberattack on Garmin Disrupted More Than Workouts
Wired
On Thursday, hackers hit the navigation and fitness giant Garmin with a ransomware attack that took down numerous services across the company.
Ransomware attack on Garmin thought to be the work of 'Evil Corp'
The Guardian
A ransomware attack that took the GPS and smartwatch business Garmin entirely offline for more than three days is believed to have been carried out by a Russian cybercriminal gang which calls itself “Evil Corp”. Garmin began to restore services to customers on Monday morning, after being held hostage for a reported ransom of $10m, although some services were still operating with limited functionality.
The Garmin Hack Was a Warning
Wired
The Garmin Hack Was a Warning
The Garmin Security Breach: Here’s What You Need to Know
Terra Nova
Earlier this year, the GPS and fitness wearables giant Garmin fell victim to a ransomware attack that encrypted internal systems and prevented customers from accessing online services. The Garmin Security Breach is now one of many high-profile ransomware attacks targeting large organizations.

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