How exposed are smartwatches and other wearable devices to cyberattacks?

How exposed are smartwatches and other wearable devices to cyberattacks?
It is important to have the security protocols activated in the Smartwatches.  (photo: Medium)
It is important to have the security protocols activated in the Smartwatches. (photo: Medium)

Smartwatches and physical activity monitoring devices are part of the so-called “wearable” technology, portable smart elements that connect to the cell phone to access its functions without the need to manipulate it directly.

These devices are the ones that are part of the internet of things, an innovation that is increasingly present in people’s lives because it has facilitated many activities inside and outside the home.

Although advances in security systems have been made in recent years, the elements of the internet of things are still very vulnerable to cyber threats: through them, criminals can access the private information that people store in cell phones, computers and the cloud.

ESET, the company that creates cybersecurity products such as antivirus, indicates the reasons why cybercriminals are interested in intervening smartwatches.

1. To steal information: Smart watches were created to synchronize with the smartphone and thus not only monitor the user’s physical health, but also access cell phone functions such as receiving or answering calls and messages. It is in this synchronization that a vulnerability is created between the devices, leaving the door open for cybercriminals to access cell phone data by hacking the clocks.

2. To access the users location: orAnother reason why criminals seek to hack “wearables” is to know the location of people through geolocation systems, which is very dangerous since in this way they spy on the movements of their possible victim to attack them physically or enter your property and steal it when you are not there.

3. To sell the profile of people to invasive advertising: It turns out that the information collected on these devices and to which some applications have access could be sold to third-party companies to send users invasive advertising.

According to ESET, a report indicated that revenues from data sold by health device manufacturers to insurance companies could reach $855 million by 2023.

4. To hack smart home devices: Through smartwatches, cybercriminals could access “smart home” devices such as security cameras, thermostats or door locks. For example, if someone loses your watch or it’s stolen, and you don’t have anti-theft settings turned on, they could unlock your home’s locks and break into your home.

Now that we know the reasons why cybercriminals often break into smartwatches and fitness tracking devices, it’s worth mentioning a few things that put people’s devices at risk.

-Bluetooth: This mechanism is used to pair different devices with the cell phone, however, vulnerabilities have been identified in the synchronization protocols that can be hacked by cyber attackers.

– Devices: It is a reality that the elements of the internet of things do not have the same protection systems as a computer or a cell phone, presenting gaps in the security seals in their programming.

– Applications: Through mobile applications created to create a bridge between phones and devices, sensitive user information could be leaked. In addition, there are “pirate” applications that were created to infect devices when they are accidentally downloaded by being confused with the original version.