Sania Sania

Wearable Security & Privacy

With wearables being more connected to us than our smartphones they know so much about us. This makes it vulnerable to security and privacy issues. There might be many risk factors which are general to all such devices. For example they are able to transfer and store personal data, but do not include PIN protection or user authentication features.

One of the biggest security threats that we have both to consumers and sellers is unauthorised exposure of the personal information. These wearable allow us to easily take pictures, record audio or videos and the data generated by this action could go in wrong hands which can pose a big threat to our personal information. Along with this, the information could be used to track a person’s daily routine or detect his location at any point of time.

Although wearables we have now, have limited exposure to threat but in future it is predicted that once these devices start functioning as smartphone itself then they will be more prone to hackers and associated risk. Currently the users should be focused on protecting their privacy.

Also, there is a possibility that one day we will leave our phones at home and just walk out with smart watch tied on our wrist. Slowly these smart watches are becoming independent. You might have noticed the shift towards smaller devices. For instance how we were dependent on laptop for all computing and communication work before the smartphone, that has taken over the communication part.  Just like that there are possibilities of smartwatches to do the same. These watch also acts as wallet, enables us to make payment and soon they might act as a remote control too.

Few reasons behind vulnerability of wearable devices


Unprotected wireless connectivity – Our devices have the tendency to easily connect to smartphones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and this creates an entry point for an attack. As the wireless connection is turned on all day long it can be vulnerable.

Take photos, audio, video- The devices have ability to take snaps and video, record audio that too with an ease, such features of a wearable device can be used for wrong purposes such as spying. Confidential and sensitive data can be captured and be posed as a threat later. Like today’s Snap Spectacles can record videos with discretion, future smart contact lenses can pose a even bigger threat.

Simple access to data- Most of the data on the devices are stored without any encryption with no password, pin or any other security. Therefore if the device goes in the wrong hands then it can be a big threat as all the info could be easily accessed.

No encryption– We saw earlier how wearable devices lack encryption, this is a problem when it comes to syncing or storing data on cloud server, there are few application which ignore security norms and work with un-encrypted data.

So according to the apps we use and the security settings we have, a phone can tell where we’ve been, what’s our passwords to most private accounts, it  has all of our photos, tells who we recently spoke with. But all this data will look slightly small compared to information that these wearable devices collect as they are more ‘personal’. Fitness tracker has the ability to count our steps, analyze our sleep, detect our location, tell what we have eaten and measure our heartbeat. Therefore if these devices get common and ordinary in near future then we have to give a deep thought to a question like are we putting our personal information at risk?

An attacker perhaps wouldn’t even need to gain access to our device to steal such information. As most of our information is stored in the cloud, the attacker would directly aim at it to rob all he wants. Also he will be able to track our location and in doing so the in-built GPS function will assist him. One doubt may cross your mind, what will the hackers get by stealing wearable’s info as these info are more about your activity than assets. The aim behind stealing such info could be providing this info to insurance companies, data brokers, advertisers, who could use this data for their benefit.

The security challenge with wearable devices shouldn’t be taken lightly, as the wearable trend will undoubtedly grow at a fast pace, so it’s vital for the industry and the consumers to take the security and privacy issue more seriously.