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Nod Incorporates Critical Security Measures to Mitigate Privacy Threats

By the YOU at College Team, 12/19/2020


Grit Digital Health’s Social Connection Building App, Nod, Incorporates Critical Security Measures to Mitigate Privacy Threats

CEO Joe Conrad: For college students to feel secure, technology designed for personal well-being must ensure complete confidentiality

DENVER, February 19, 2020 – Nod, a mobile app that uses the science of social connection to tackle loneliness on college campuses, was launched in 2019. As savvy digital natives, today’s students want to know their data is not being misused, which is why Nod developers incorporated stringent privacy protections to ensure all user data is secure and completely confidential.

More than 100 students were engaged in Nod’s design process. Created by Grit Digital Health and Hopelab, the app works to reduce the impact of loneliness on young people’s well-being by using science-backed strategies to empower students to build authentic connections and social resilience. Loneliness is a critical threat to student well-being and success. Lonely young people report higher anxiety and depressive symptoms and are at heightened risk for self-harm and suicidality. In retention surveys, social factors have been reported as a major reason students leave college before completing their degree. 

“Privacy protection in technology is a ‘must have’ in today’s digital world,” said Joe Conrad, CEO of Grit Digital Health. “Beyond just protecting a person’s data, these protections provide peace of mind, an essential component to people entrusting technology with personal information.”

To that end, developers at Grit Digital Health include both behavioral health experts and seasoned software engineers in all product decision-making. Nod, for example, collects minimal user information during onboarding, like name and email address, for the sole purpose of granting secure access to its users. Within the app there are no ads and no free text is collected. Data that is collected is protected via comprehensive privacy defenses. For example:

  • Personally identifiable data like email addresses are always encrypted in order to protect the student’s identity.
  • The Grit Digital Health team’s access to student data is restricted, limiting access of confidential information to only key development staff.
  • Grit uses de-identified data to analyze trends in use of Nod while protecting individual privacy.
  • Finally, no information is ever sold to any outside third party. 

“With the mission of improving student well-being, data isn’t collected to be bought and sold,” said Conrad. “Its sole purpose is to make the Nod experience more personalized and impactful. All of our policies reflect these principles with privacy always being our first priority.”

Nod was developed through a collaboration between Hopelab, a social innovation lab committed to helping improve the health and well-being of young people, and Grit’s sister company Cactus, a national leader in branding, digital and marketing strategy. College is a time of major social network disruption that puts students at risk for loneliness, but it is also a time when motivation for building social connection is high. Nod draws on strategies from positive psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mindful self-compassion to empower students with tools to build the social connections they want and need to be successful in college. 

To learn more about Nod, visit

About Grit Digital Health

Grit Digital Health develops behavioral health and well-being solutions through design and technology that envision a new way to approach mental health and well-being. The company solves complex health problems through innovation and creativity, including products that address veteran transitions to civilian life, student loneliness and well-being, employee satisfaction and the mental health of working-age men. For more information, visit

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