Mobile apps are currently one of the retailers’ best tools for engaging customers, developing a loyal following and increasing sales. With these handy smartphone downloads, customers are more likely to return to that place of business and take advantage of special offers that can save them money. Retail apps in certain industries like health and fitness can even make a positive impact on users’ well-being.
The Walgreens pharmacy app, which has had tens of millions of downloads, makes it easy for customers to order their refills, check up on their prescriptions and much more. Unfortunately, a “bug” in the app’s code leaked personal messages that could have contained names, prescription information and some customers’ shipping addresses for app-based orders.
The sample data breach notification letter that Walgreens filed with the state of California stated that the company itself discovered the error in the app. Fortunately, that means the Walgreens data exposure might have been discovered before anyone could use the disclosed information or messages for harm. Walgreens has not issued any examples of what kind of harm could come from the Walgreens data exposure, but they have told patients to monitor their Walgreens accounts and keep tabs on their prescriptions.
It is worth noting that no financial information or permanent identifying information (like Social Security numbers) was exposed as part of the Walgreens data exposure. Also, no health insurance information was compromised. Because of that, no one has to worry about someone ordering prescriptions in a customer’s name.
While this might seem like a minor form of a data breach, it should still serve as a reminder that all of the information we choose to share online or in the cloud could be accessed by someone with the right know-how, or by a faulty piece of code in an app or website. It also highlights the fact that using some of this technology means placing trust in others’ ability to protect that information. If you do not feel confident in how your data will be stored or what information about you will be collected, think twice about downloading or using that technology.
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