More and more people have started sporting wearable technology. These are electronic devices that perform the functions of computers and mobile phones, and can be worn on the body and allow the wearer to access and record information in real time.
According to research by International Data Corp., wearable device shipments worldwide are expected to reach 237.5 million by the year 2021. It’s no surprise then that these devices are increasingly being targeted by hackers.
It is the combination of their interconnectivity with other devices (many connect direct to your smartphone), constant link to the internet and the sensitive personal information they harvest that makes wearable tech such a concern when it comes to cyber security. Research conducted by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2015 revealed that all the smartwatches it tested are prone to cyberhacking. This can be attributed to certain pitfalls such as not having a two-factor authentication feature and poor encryption and inconsistent firmware updates.
The good news is that the technology of wearables has progressed a lot over the years. The bad news is that the huge proliferation of new products onto the market, means that there are inconsistent standards when it comes to security, with many lesser known products having gaping security flaws.
It pays therefore to be vigilant in protecting your personal information. Read through the privacy policies of your device and the apps associated with them instead of just skipping them over. Data breach is not something an ordinary individual has control over, but you can make the most of what you can control.
You shouldn’t give a lot of permissions to your smartwatch apps. Unless necessary (e.g. using your device for running), don’t give access to your account information and location as this can make your device vulnerable to spyware.
If you’re using your wearable to manage smart-home technology, you should be especially vigilant. See to it that all the security settings needed to protect your device are enabled. This is so that it wouldn’t pair with any other device that you haven’t authorized. This way, you will not put your residence at risk for phishing, hacking, or worse, robbery.
The issues around hacking wearables becomes incredibly grave when we think about health-related wearables such as pacemakers and devices that measure things like insulin levels, irregular heartbeats, blood pressure and air pollution for asthmatics. Here cyberhacking can genuinely endanger the life of the user.
When these devices are linked up to the internet or internal computer networks, they could also serve as an entry for hackers to plant ransomware into systems which can affect the operations of the NHS or departments in the government. This demanded for a new regulation to be formed to ensure that devices connected to the internet will not be susceptible to hacking.
Finally, there’s business. For people on the go, using a smartwatch to check their work emails and take business calls are slowly becoming a norm. However, this can pose a potential threat to the security of the company network being accessed as well as the confidential data stored in it. As a preventive measure, companies who have employees doing this should come up with a security strategy to keep their system safe and secure.
Cyber attacks to wearables can’t be totally prevented. But it is possible to create a system that will allow you to bounce back immediately in the event of breach or data loss. If you intend to use and utilise wearables for home, work, and health purposes, you have to take your privacy and cyber security seriously. You can do this through something as simple as restricting who has access to your wifi password to something as major as hiring a cyber security professional to design a plan for your system.
Whatever works, as long as you take steps to keep yourself protected, so you can enjoy using your wearables to the fullest.