Why is Joe Biden’s bike a security risk?

Security experts raise alarm over hi-tech bike’s features

The United States’ newly minted president, Joe Biden, is certainly fit to run the most powerful country in the world. But the equipment that the 78-year-old uses to stay in shape, a stationary bike, may pose a threat to America’s security.

The Peloton connects to the internet and includes a microphone and camera. That makes the bike vulnerable to hacking, according to a report in the magazine Popular Mechanics.

“Because you’re connected to the internet, even though there are firewalls and intrusion detection software… those things can be gotten around if you’re really good and skilled,” Max Kilger, director of the data analytics program and associate professor at the University of Texas, San Antonio, told the magazine.

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To make the bike hack-proof, security services will have to turn the Peloton into a less “intelligent” version of itself – which means ripping out the microphone and camera and disabling some of the features that allow riders to join online streaming classes and interact with other fellow riders.

Peloton has seen a surge in demand during the pandemic. As gyms closed and demand for at-home workouts increased, the firm’s global membership more than doubled – to 3.1 million at the end of June last year, according to a BBC report. The bikes don’t come cheap – they cost upward of $2,000 apiece.

This is not the first time a new president’s personal gadget has presented a headache to security services. Barack Obama, the first presidential candidate to harness the power of social media to power his campaign, was famously attached to his BlackBerry. In his new presidential memoir, A Promised Land, he reveals that he was allowed a specially modified BlackBerry that allowed him to send emails, but no phone calls.

Donald Trump continued to use his personal phone to make calls well into his presidency, despite repeated warnings that the practice could leave him vulnerable to foreign surveillance.

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