May 14, 2015

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What to Know About the New Apple Watch and Security

The launch of the Apple Watch caused an online purchasing frenzy, with analysts estimating that pre-orders reached about 1 million worldwide. Unfortunately, Apple’s latest product is sparking not just consumer desire, but also security concerns.

Security experts have cautioned that the Apple Watch is “unchartered territory” when it comes to third-party app development — and even though Apple has clear privacy rules, the company can’t police every developer creating apps for the watch. Other experts have noted that the watch’s Bluetooth function could lead to attacks through untrusted Wi-Fi access points.

Since the device was just released, Apple Watch security issues haven’t been uncovered yet. But if you own an Apple Watch — or are considering a purchase — it’s worth staying abreast of vulnerabilities that could lead to identity theft.

Wearable Devices on the Rise

The Apple Watch is one of a growing number of wearable devices that use wireless connections to transfer information between your computer or smartphone and the device.

Fitness trackers like FitBit, Nike+ Fuelband and Garmin Vivofit are convenient for compiling data like sleep activity and nutrition, but they also have the potential to expose sensitive information. While criminals seemingly can’t use data like your body mass index, these devices can track location and include passwords that can unlock other apps.

With Apple Watch security, the situation is even more of a concern. After all, people tend to store so much on their iPhones (which must be used for Apple Watch functionality), such as financial apps, personal data, photos and even password apps that can unlock banking and credit card information.

If a criminal gains access to your Apple Watch or similar device, you could be at risk. Here are some tips to follow to help you prevent identity theft:

  • Create strong passwords: It’s a constant refrain for better security, but it’s worth repeating. Difficult-to-guess passwords help increase security and lower the chances that an identity thief will hack into your devices and apps.
  • Increase iPhone security: Since the Apple Watch must be paired with your iPhone, it’s more important than ever to make sure your smartphone is locked down. Regularly update the phone’s firmware, disable features that can be accessed without entering your passcode and, of course, enable the passcode lock.
  • Use the opt-in PIN for Apple Pay: Although using a PIN to access Apple Pay functions requires an extra step, resist the temptation to make the process faster by skipping it. Like other types of passwords, PINs offer an extra layer of security, and each layer helps you prevent identity theft.

With the popularity of the Apple Watch and other wearable devices, we’ll likely continue to want the latest and greatest gadgets that put the Internet and personal health data right at our fingertips. Be sure, however, that the information you’re accessing leads to the information and insights you want, not to a stolen identity.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Yasunobu Ikeda.

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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