Watch what you wear: The pitfalls of wearables

It's not just smart phones that are popular. Smart watches and other portable devices (wearables) are now flooding the market.

These devices increasingly connect us with people who are far away, support our daily needs and desires, enable us to manage some data and, of course, make a… loud fashion statement.

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"The combination of technology and fashion may be what attracts some people to these devices, but we all need to understand the risks involved in using such a device," say experts from the digital security firm. ESET.

As diverse as one's wardrobe fashionista

Wearables can take many forms and functions, from smartwatches used to support the functions of our phones, to rings or fitness bands used to monitor our pulse or oxygen levels, or glasses that can augment reality. us by artificial means.

In a way, these devices are as diverse as a model's wardrobe, so it's no wonder they have done widely popular.

According recent survey, the wearables market is expected to grow by 12,9% from 2023 to 2030, with its current size already reaching US$71,91 billion. The best-selling products are devices worn on the hand, head, and eyes.

It is obvious that by now we all need to be aware of the security risks of using such electronic devices. "These devices present even greater security risks than smartphones, not only for consumers but also for businesses," say experts from ESET.

Your health information – accessible to everyone

Modern times require modern risk assessment, which is why we should be more aware of the problems these devices can cause than security point of view. As people choose mobile devices that can connect to the internet, cybercriminals will try to gain access to personal information on or through these devices.

Many people like to run wearing the most sophisticated sports watches and smartwatches, with annual growth in sales of these devices reaching 30%. The fact that these devices can track and report their owners' health metrics is just one of many concerns.

Previously, such health data was only useful to the users themselves or their doctors. Today, however, this data can end up in the hands of third parties, who may sell the information or use it to create personalized ads. At worst, a criminal can abuse this data to track a person's location, habits and other details with great precision.

At the same time, the potential connection of wearables to company networks can create unnecessary business security risks, as these wearables often share their connections with phones, creating a potential vehicle for a cyberattack.

The same goes for attacks Phishing, vishing ή smishing that are spreading throughout the digital world are also a threat to wearable watches as, very often, their functions are now approaching those of a telephone.

Further security concerns

Many security experts warn that the smart clocks they often lack adequate user authentication methods, as they do not prompt users to create strong PINs or passwords to unlock their devices.

But even if they do, these measures are often weak, as the devices in question don't offer the same set of processing power to provide complex authentication measures like phones do. However, even a simple password is better than no password at all.

Another concern is data storage. And that's because smartwatches now have their own hard drives, and the data stored on them often lacks encryption or, even worse, uses cloud solutions to transport said data, which could be hacked relatively easily by a MITM (man in the middle) attack, for example.

The same can be said for the Bluetooth connection between the watch and the phone, as simple data sniffers are able to intercept the data transfer from the watch to the phone or vice versa.

What can you do

Fortunately, there are ways to make using your mobile devices more secure. As with anything else, user error is the most common cause of successful attacks, so training in practical ways to mitigate this can go a long way.

These are the 5 steps recommended by the experts from ESET.

  1. Check regularly for software and security updates to your watch.
  2. Check your app permissions.
  3. Create a PIN or password.
  4. Be careful what you store on your device.
  5. Keep a few things in mind basic cybersecurity measures.

Taken together, these five steps offer a roadmap for improving security—however, caution is still advised when using any mobile device.

Android device users should prioritize using a trusted mobile safety app and remain vigilant when downloading apps from third-party developers, who often offer custom apps on the Google Play Store or even app stores like Garmin or Huawei AppGallery.

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