Article Digital Health
04 April 2024

Safeguarding women’s health: Ensuring digital data security and privacy in Femtech

In the second instalment of our Femtech series, Sharon Dickie takes a look at why data security and privacy need to be at the front of anyone's mind as they create mobile and web solutions to benefit 21st-century women.

teamwork iconteamwork icon
teamwork iconteamwork icon

Diverse People, Diverse Perspectives

Waracle is an inclusive, inspiring & developmental home to the most talented and diverse people in our industry. The perspectives offered in our insights represent the views and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily an official position of Waracle.

As the digital health landscape diversifies and starts to serve a wider percentage of the population, ensuring the security and privacy of data shared through mobile apps and other digital products is paramount. This is especially true in the realm of women’s health and Femtech.

The sensitive nature of health information underscores the critical importance of robust security measures to protect users’ provacy, confidentiality, dignity and safety. In this blog, we delve into why data security and privacy are quite so essential in the world of Femtech, highlighting examples where lapses have led to detrimental consequences.

Join us as we continue to explore the world of women’s digital health solutions, from the perspective of the women who use them!

The importance of data security and privacy

Femtech platforms play a pivotal role in empowering women to take control of their health and well-being as we discussed in our previous article, ‘Empowering Women’s Health: The Rise of Femtech and Digital Solutions’.

However, with this empowerment comes a responsibility to put in place the kind of safeguards that minimise risk and maximise benefits to the consumer, by abstracting away vulnerabilities that are inevitably created in the world of  digital innovation. The privacy and security of users’ data is a singular topic, as it is quite simply the most important aspect of creating digital products in this day and age.

With Femtech solutions, women may share their most personal of information, from identifiable information and  location data to health information and sensitive information such as menstrual cycles, fertility status, and intimate physiological concerns, in doing so, they are trusting that their data will be handled with the kind of care and confidentiality that consumers expect from modern businesses.

The standards applied to organisations in the world of digital health solutions are focused and rigorous… let’s take a look at why that is the case.

Ensuring data security and privacy

Organisations need to determine the adequate internal safeguards to protect data, alongside understanding the intricacies of potential vulnerabilities. Any business is only ever as safe, as it’s last attempted attack… and that’s why pen testing and ethical hacking have become such vital tools in the modern Femtech business’ arsenal.

When we look to what kinds of data can be exposed, it is easy to see why security and privacy is so high on the agenda for female patients and consumers.

Safety: Personal health information can be sensitive and, if compromised, may put individuals at risk of harm. For instance, disclosure of fertility status or pregnancy-related data without consent could have serious repercussions for individuals in abusive relationships or precarious social situations.

Confidentiality: Women deserve the assurance that their health data will be kept confidential and not shared without their explicit consent. Breaches of confidentiality can erode trust in healthcare providers and digital platforms, deterring individuals from seeking necessary care.

Dignity: Respecting individuals’ dignity entails protecting their privacy and autonomy over their health information. Women should have the agency to decide who can access their data and for what purposes, without fear of judgment or discrimination.

Humanity: Digital health platforms must prioritise the human aspect of healthcare, recognising the individuals behind the data and the ethical responsibility to uphold their rights and dignity.

Accuracy: Inaccurate or incomplete health data can lead to misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment decisions, and compromised health outcomes. Ensuring the integrity and accuracy of data is essential for delivering safe and effective care.

Examples of Poor Data Security and Privacy in Femtech:

Like many disciplines in the world of digital product and experience development, the hard work is done in ensuring certain outcomes never occur, so optimising towards a lack of critical failure becomes the moving target, which is a nuanced, difficult and ever-changing goal.

Unfortunately, there have been instances where lapses in data security and privacy have resulted in negative consequences for users. These are by no means the only examples, but we have chosen these to illustrate the kinds of risks that digitally native health businesses face into:

Flo Health Data Sharing Scandal: In 2019, the period-tracking app Flo Health faced backlash after it was revealed that the company was sharing users’ sensitive health data, including menstrual cycles and pregnancy status, with third-party analytics and marketing firms without adequate consent. This breach of trust sparked outrage among users and raised concerns about the ethical practices of Femtech companies.

MyFitnessPal Data Breach: While not specific to women’s health, the data breach experienced by the fitness-tracking app MyFitnessPal in 2018 underscores the broader risks associated with inadequate data security. The breach exposed the personal information of approximately 150 million users, including usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords, highlighting the potential consequences of lax security measures.

Period-Tracking Apps and Targeted Advertising: Many period-tracking apps have come under scrutiny for their use of targeted advertising based on users’ menstrual cycle data. While some argue that personalised ads enhance user experience, others raise concerns about the commercial exploitation of sensitive health information and the potential for discriminatory or stigmatising advertising practices.

Health Data Leaks in Telemedicine Platforms: With the increasing popularity of telemedicine services, concerns have arisen regarding the security of health data transmitted through these platforms. Instances of data leaks or breaches in telemedicine apps can expose users’ confidential health information to unauthorised parties, undermining trust in digital healthcare delivery.

Security Safeguards in Femtech

To mitigate these risks, companies offering mobile application based health services must implement robust security safeguards, adhering to industry best practices and standards.

For example, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) provides a comprehensive framework for securing web and mobile applications, offering guidance on vulnerabilities and countermeasures.

Some key security safeguards that Femtech companies should consider include:

  • Encryption: Utilising strong encryption protocols to protect data both at rest and in transit, safeguarding against unauthorised access or interception
  • Access Controls: Implementing strict access controls and user authentication mechanisms to ensure that only authorised individuals can access sensitive health information
  • Data Minimisation: Collecting and retaining only the minimum amount of data necessary for the intended purpose, reducing the risk of exposure in the event of a breach
  • Regular Audits and Assessments: ConductConducting regular security audits and assessments to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems and processes, allowing for timely remediation
  • Transparent Data Practices: Being transparent with users about data collection, storage, and sharing practices, obtaining informed consent, and empowering individuals with control over their data


As Femtech continues to reshape the landscape of women’s health, ensuring the security and privacy of user data must remain a top priority. By implementing robust security measures and adhering to best practices, Femtech companies can uphold the trust and confidence of their users while promoting safe and ethical healthcare delivery.

Moving forward, regulatory bodies, healthcare professionals, and technology developers must collaborate to establish industry standards and guidelines for data security and privacy in digital health.

Waracle have vast experience working within the highly regulated and secure sectors of healthcare, clinical trials and wellness and know first hand that only by including security and privacy at the outset can the full potential of intelligent digital experiences be achieved, and more so empower the user. If you’d like to talk through your plans and an security or privacy concerns you have then get in touch, we can talk for hours on this.

Share this article


Sharon Dickie
Sharon Dickie
Chief Operating Officer