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Securing your wearable devices

Oh Sieng Chye, Malware Researcher, ESET Asia Pacific | Nov. 11, 2015
The single most important step that needs to be taken is consumer education and raising security awareness surrounding the use of wearable devices.

Increasing awareness and being proactive
Wearables might not necessarily be more vulnerable to cyber-attack than other devices. They too, have in-built security features that can help fend off attacks. In addition, responsible manufacturers consistently test the product design and software for flaws.

The Apple Watch for example, like all iOS devices, has an opt-in password which requires users to enter this each time they put the Apple Watch back on their wrist. The sensors in the watch are able to tell if someone is wearing it. Most importantly, the password becomes mandatory if Apple Pay is enabled on the Apple Watch, and all Pay accounts can be deactivated remotely via iCloud.

In short, this means that, if you did lose your Apple Watch, someone wouldn't instantly be able to go shopping using your credit card.

What makes wearables an attractive target for hackers is not the ease with which they can gain access to these devices, but the highly personal and intimate nature of the information that's stored on them. Being personal devices, this also means that the onus of security also falls on consumers.

Unfortunately, there are some also security problems with wearables which might be beyond the consumer, such as inherent product design issues. Nonetheless, consumers should continue to practice safe computing, protect against physical theft, ensure that they use strong password protection, and regularly install manufacturer software updates.

For businesses, it's crucial to tackle wearables by having a policy that defines the proper usage of such devices within their organisation. They should also consider implementing a device management solution to provide an added security layer.

The single most important step that needs to be taken is consumer education and raising security awareness surrounding the use of wearable devices. There is a lack of formal cybersecurity education in this region, with the ESET Asia-Pacific Cyber-Savviness report discovering that four in 10 online users gleaned their information from unofficial sources, either through their own online research or from their families and acquaintances.

As more innovative and disruptive technologies make their way into the marketplace, it is important for consumers to be able to embrace them and enjoy their benefits. The key to increasing cyber-savviness is boosting awareness not just of potential security threats, but also the defensive steps that need to be taken, consequently helping consumers be confident and stay protected in our connected world.

 

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