(WTNH) — The popularity of at-home exercise has exploded during this pandemic. Sales of Peloton spin bikes have skyrocketed, but could it open you up to someone eavesdropping or even spying on you? Let’s take a look to see if you should be sweating your privacy.
When President Joe Biden took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2021, he, his wife, and his dogs were welcomed into the White House. But one of his possessions was not. The president rides a Peloton bike for exercise and because the bike is equipped with a big Android tablet complete with a camera and a microphone that connect to the internet, it was deemed a White House security risk.
But the risks don’t stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Dr. Ibrahim Baggili, a cybersecurity expert at the University of New Haven, says it is possible for hackers to access the camera and microphone on exercise equipment like a Peloton.
“We teach a whole class on how to do this at our university,” says Dr. Baggili.
But there are even bigger dangers, like hacking heart monitors to make you think you are having a heart problem or worse.
“If you are running on a treadmill and somebody is capable of stopping that treadmill while you are running really fast. Now you can physically harm an individual,” he says.
It is possible for these bikes to be hacked from the outside. But it turns out bike hacking is a two-way street. A growing number of home users are hacking their own bikes.
Videos on YouTube show home users how to hack their Peloton bikes. Some teach you how you can watch something else on that screen, including Netflix.
And that’s not all. Some people are hacking their bikes to make it look like they worked out harder than they really did and shoot to the top of the class.
But for a lot of Peloton lovers like school teacher Marlene Parker from Wolcott, fear of hackers won’t get in the way of a great workout.
“I’m not afraid. I don’t think anyone is listening,” Marlene Parker said. “And the most that they would be listening to is like ‘what’s for dinner?’ or homework assignments with my kids.”
We reached out to Peloton, and they said their products have strong privacy protections and use third-party security experts.
Some good advice – don’t put any device with cameras or microphones, like a Peloton, in an intimate area of your home, like a bedroom, and keep the software up to date.