This is a guest post by Monika Tudja. Want to write for WearableZone? Check out our guidelines.
Wearable technology was once the stuff of science fiction. We saw it on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, but never expected to see it down our own high street.
Apple’s latest wearable, the Apple Watch 2, offers plenty of great features for the busy modern professional and fitness aficionado. (Read our full Apple Watch 2 review.) We love its touch payment features, its growing collection of apps, and built-in fitness features.
But the Apple Watch also has the flaws of any connected device — including security risks. In September of this year, Apple released an urgent update after hackers seized full control of iPhones and Mac computers. Hackers listened to calls, turned on cameras and microphones, and accessed personal data.
As our reliance on connected wearables continues to grow, personal security matters now more than ever. Here’s how you can protect your data.
Apple Watch: Easy To Hack?
Last week, Dyn — a company that serves as the intermediary between you and the websites you want to access — was hit by a major hacking attack that knocked major webpages offline. If you had trouble accessing Reddit, Gmail, Twitter, and Netflix last week, this is why. According to NPR, the hackers accessed thousands of internet-connected things to attack Dyn with an overload of page requests.
The result? Major outages — and major inconvenience. We’re still understanding the security risks of the Internet of Things, and WiFi-enabled wearable devices are at the vanguard of that revolution.
All connected devices are vulnerable to online hackers, surveillance, and other threats to the security and privacy of our data. Whether you are an Apple Watch fan or use one of its many rival products, like the Pebble Time Round and Samsung Gear S2, you should take steps to secure your device.
Don’t find yourself on the receiving end of someone who has figured out how to hack Apple Watch. Here are a few recommended steps you can take to protect your smartwatch.
Monitor Your Connection
Does your smartwatch connect to a WiFi network? On the Apple Watch, the system automatically connects to WiFi through your smartphone. But tread carefully when you’re using public networks — if you use any smartwatch apps that contain important data, like your bank account or card information on Apple Pay, it might be safer to just turn your phone’s WiFi off.
Stay On Top Of Updates
Apple Watch setup is a pretty painless process. Here's how to get it done. https://t.co/HH8jLoVIN7— WearableZone (@_wearablezone) November 2, 2016
Your computer is already protected by an antivirus program. But few of us think about using antivirus on our mobile devices and wearables.
Smartwatches are just as susceptible to malicious software — in one study, researchers determined access codes on key-based entry systems (like your PIN) by cataloging the hand movements picked up by wearables. Wearables are becoming more advanced, which means that opportunities for data breaches are growing.
Companies will release updates in order to safeguard their devices against malicious hackers, like Apple did in response to the hack earlier this year. Don’t put off updating your device — it could save your data in the long run.
In terms of preventative measures, some antivirus programs are starting to protect wearables. Currently, Kaspersky has a version of their software that works with Android Wear.
Use Secure Passwords
Passwords are perhaps the biggest online vulnerability, yet they are now so ubiquitous that many people either use simple passwords or the same one on multiple accounts.
Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, use a password manager (we like 1Password for Apple Watch). A password manager secures your passwords and allows you to access them via one master password. They can also generate complex, hard-to-crack passwords which help to keep your data secure.
Use A VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) ensures your online data is private and secure — and it works just as well for a smartwatch. They work by rerouting your online traffic down an encrypted pathway through an external server. This pathway ensures that all your online data is secure and encrypted, which means hackers cannot access it.
Meanwhile, sending all your data via an external server means your own IP address is hidden. Therefore, you’re able to use any services as you want in total anonymity.
VPNs are used by millions of people around the world to unblock geo-restricted content. Smartwatches can benefit from VPNs being used on host smartphones and on WiFi routers. If your device works by tethering to your phone (like the Apple Watch and iPhone), a mobile VPN is an extra step to secure your data — and keep prying eyes away.