Cybersecurity: What pitfalls do “smart” accessories hide?

Cybersecurity: What pitfalls do "smart" accessories hide?
Cybersecurity: What pitfalls do “smart” accessories hide? ©Shutterstock

it’s not just smartphones that are popular. Smartwatches 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, give us the ability to manage some data and, of course, make a… loud fashion statement.

“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 the experts from the digital security company ESET.

As diverse as a “fashionista”‘s wardrobe

According to a related announcement by ESET, “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 our reality through artificial means.

According to recent research, the “wearables” market is expected to grow by 12.9% from 2023 to 2030, with its current size already reaching $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 the experts from ESET.

Your health information accessible to everyone

Modern times require a modern risk assessment, which is why we should be more aware of the problems these devices can cause in terms of security. 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 may 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 the 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 cyberattack.

The same is true of the “phishing”, “vishing” or “smishing” attacks that are spreading throughout the digital world and are also a threat to “wearable” watches, since, very often, their functions are now closer to those of a phone.

Further security concerns

Many security experts warn that smartwatches too often lack adequate user authentication methods, failing to 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 as 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 is often unencrypted or, even worse, uses “cloud” solutions to transfer said data, which could be hacked relatively ‘easily from 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 probes are able to intercept the transfer of data from the watch to the phone or vice versa.

What can you do

Fortunately, there are ways to make using your mobile devices safer. 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.

  • Check regularly for software and security updates to your watch.
  • Check your app permissions.
  • Create a “PIN” or password.
  • Be careful what you store on your device.
  • Keep some basic cyber security measures in mind.

Taken together, these five steps offer a road map 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 the “Huawei AppGallery”, the announcement concludes.


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