When it comes to sensitive data, it doesn’t get much more private than period and symptom tracking. Health information is among the most sensitive information you can collect about a person — which is why it needs to be protected.
Many of us use technology to manage our health, whether it’s a smart watch, a blood pressure monitor, a mental health app, or a period tracking app. But, as many of us know — and many are just now starting to discover — that data is often not properly secured. Even worse, individuals’ health data is often sold to advertisers, and in some cases, can be used against them by third parties.
For people who menstruate, the privacy of period tracking apps has come into focus with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. With disparate laws taking effect in different U.S. states, and the landscape shifting every day, many people are concerned that their data might be used against them. They’re unsure of whether they can trust the apps they’re using to monitor their health to act in their best interest — because the individual user doesn’t really have control of their own data within those applications. A look at the current period tracking app landscape shows that the availability of true data privacy and control is lackluster at best — and Zero Trust protection of health data in consumer apps is practically nonexistent.
That’s why, during Virtru’s Innovation Week Hackathon, a women-led team ideated, developed, and showcased SecureCycle, a sample application built on our own open source technology, OpenTDF. The sample app leverages OpenTDF to put true privacy and data control in the hands of the individual.
This weekend, Virtru’s Cassandra Bailey, Senior Technical Product Manager, will be demonstrating SecureCycle at DEF CON 30 in Las Vegas. The demo will be held between 2-4 pm on Saturday, August 13 at Caesar’s Forum, Las Vegas in the Accord Boardroom.
You can find more information about the demo in our press release.
This sample app was created with privacy at the forefront, while still incorporating the functionality that individuals look for in a period tracker. Check out the team’s pitch and a short prototype demo in the videos below. You’ll see how OpenTDF truly safeguards data in motion and at rest, and exactly how you can put the encryption keys in the hands of the data owner.
SecureCycle was created by a truly cross-functional team, with the idea and vision brought to the table by Tarryn Lambert, UX Research and Design Manager. “Now more than ever, it’s important for people to know that they have a choice to protect their data. I often hear from friends that they end up using products for the features, and that when it comes to security, they don't have much of a choice,” said Lambert. “By building this sample app, I think we are showing the market: There is a way to protect data, and there is a way to put the control back in the hands of the individual.”
The team that came together to build the app represented many functions from across the organization — from engineers to UX researchers and designers, marketing, project managers, our administrative team, and summer interns. A team comprised mostly of women, we worked collaboratively leveraging tools like FigJam to gather input on what the market, and our own team, would value in a secure period tracking app. We stacked OpenTDF’s privacy capabilities against the major period tracking apps on the market. (There was no contest: OpenTDF's security won out every time.) We voted on names, designs, and priorities for the prototype, giving every participant a voice in the output.
The team embodied everything you would hope for in a Hackathon project: Inclusivity, inspiration, and an environment where everyone on the team had something important to contribute.
“SecureCycle was created during Virtru’s bi-annual Innovation Week, a week of brainstorming and cross-team experimentation,” said Cassandra Bailey, Senior Product Manager, Virtru. “I am incredibly proud to be part of an organization that is willing to invest in its employees in this way and allow us to create a project that will set a new standard for data privacy in period tracking apps. There is no other period tracking app that we’re aware of that provides this level of data security.”
Data is intrinsically tied to people: Whether it’s data about individuals, cities, infrastructure, or systems that serve them. And it’s people who are analyzing and leveraging all that data.
That data deserves to be respected and safeguarded. We hope that SecureCycle shows developers what is possible when it comes to putting true control in the hands of the data owner. You can see the team’s pitch and a demo of the sample app on our SecureCycle page — and we hope it sparks creative thinking around how you can use OpenTDF to safeguard the myriad other types of sensitive data that need to be protected.
Software developers, we invite you to explore the power of OpenTDF to secure the data you’re entrusted with. You can start building right now by accessing our GitHub repo.
Angie Schedler, Digital Marketing Project Manager
Avery Pfeiffer, Senior Full-Stack Engineer 2
Ben Leggett, Staff Engineer 1
Brianna Pham, Product Management Intern
Carissa Nee, Director of Field Marketing
Cassandra Bailey, Senior Technical
Jade Francis, Security and Compliance Analyst
Daniel Ricaud, Senior Full-Stack Engineer 2
Lewshá Washington, Executive Assistant
Liz Healy, Full Stack Engineer 2
Marielle Mauer, Senior Designer
Megan Leader, Director of Brand and Content
Sahar Naderi, UX Researcher
Shelby Imes, Content Writer
Tarryn Lambert, UX Research and Design Manager
Cheerleaders: Courtney D., Nathan I., Mike C.
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