Menu
Potential Apple Watch snooping: a not-so-paranoid cyberespionage risk

Potential Apple Watch snooping: a not-so-paranoid cyberespionage risk

UK ministers have reportedly been barred from wearing the Apple Watch in sensitive meetings

It may sound paranoid, but the next time you enter a highly confidential meeting, leave your smart watch behind. It's possible the device could be spying on you.

That's what ministers in the U.K. are reportedly being told. They've recently been banned from wearing Apple Watches during cabinet meetings on fears that the devices could be hacked by Russian cyberspies, according to The Telegraph.

Mobile phones have already been prohibited from cabinet meetings, but the U.K. government has reportedly taken the extra step of also banning smart watches.

The risk is that such devices could be hijacked to secretly eavesdrop on users, especially those with top secret information. Security experts warn that this possibility isn't so far-fetched and that business executives should also take precautions.

“Wearable computing devices, such as the Apple Watch -- with a built-in microphone, sensors, and wireless communication -- present a valuable attack surface for espionage," said Craig Young, a researcher with security firm Tripwire.

Security experts have already demonstrated ways that the microphone on smartphones can be used to secretly record conversations, steal a user's data, or even identify passwords based solely on the vibrations made from a nearby keyboard, he added.

Smart watches, which have generated their fair share of security concerns, could be used in the same way. The devices also generally sit on the users' wrist, putting them in a better position to allow for eavesdropping on conversations or keyboard noise, Young said.

Earlier this year, researchers found that Apple Watches can be theoretically hacked to record a user's hand movements, and even steal PIN numbers typed into ATM machines.

"In my opinion, business executives would be well-advised to either forgo smartwatches or at least remember to put them out earshot as a best practice when discussing highly valuable information," Young said.

Still, the Apple Watch hasn't become a real target for malware. Much of the malicious coding out today affects Windows PCs and Android smartphones.

Smart watches can also be limited in functionality, said Jonathan Sander, a vice president at security provider Lieberman Software. For instance, the devices mostly tether themselves to a smartphone and tend to act simply as a regular watch once out of range.

Nevertheless, foreign governments have resorted to extraordinary means to sabotage their targets. Sander pointed to the example of Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm allegedly developed by the U.S. to stop Iran's nuclear program.

"Is it really so far-fetched to imagine (Apple's voice assistant) Siri spying on your government for the other side?" he said. "Security is a battle of inches, and even the one-inch square device on your wrist may be surface area the bad guys can attack."


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Apple

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments