How to Secure a New Smartwatch for Data Privacy
Are you the happy owner of a new smartwatch or another wearable? Smartwatches are a convenient way to keep up with emails and messages. They are popular for fitness tracking, paying at POS terminals, banking, and mobile shopping. But like most online experiences, with convenience comes increased risk.
Hackers only need to access one of your smart devices, like a watch, phone, or tablet, to get into your accounts like email and financial information. Wearables like smartwatches present another opportunity for hackers to steal your personal data, banking credentials, and passwords. Even a seemingly low-level password like an Instagram login can help a hacker begin a social engineering attack or phishing scam.
As a new smartwatch owner, there are a few precautions you can take to make your device more secure. Your device probably arrived partially charged and it is up to you to top it off. Since your smartwatch most likely came packaged with a USB cable it may be tempting to plug it into the nearest USB charging port to bring it up to a full charge.
Charge the battery securely
Sometimes a phone charging port is more than just a charger. Public charging stations, such as those found in airport waiting areas, can identify and track your device. When possible, use your own cord connected to a standard wall outlet to charge any electronic device. Charging stations and USB charging connectors can be used to download data from and track mobile devices from station to station. The goal of charging station tracking is may be to simply understand traveler and usage behaviors. However, the data gleaned from your wearable or smartphone can include MAC address which is an individual identifier assigned to all electronic devices. A device’s MAC address allows charging station providers to track your smartwatch, phone, tablet or another device without fail.
USB charging ports are commonly found in hotels desks, airport lounges, charging stations, and other public places. They can be altered. USB receptacles allow multiple devices to use the power from one electrical outlet. Although they are perfectly fine to use at home or in a trusted environment, they are very hackable in public spaces.
Installing the Device’s Corresponding App
Most wearables require that you install an app on your mobile device, so it can sync your phone to your smartwatch. You will need to download the app. Be sure you take the download from an official site like the Google Play Store, the Apple Store, or a manufacturer’s download area like Galaxy Apps. Make sure you are on a secure WiFi connection when you download the app as you may have to give login credentials to associate the app with your device.
Be sure you have the appropriate app and ensure that the app is up-to-date with the latest version. Your device may have come preloaded with the correct app, but it can easily be out of date from the most secure version. If necessary, update your app to the latest version.
Periodically check to see that you have the latest software loaded on all devices. Older software is a common inroad for hackers.
Don’t Make Yourself a Mugging Target
Watches and phones are many times out in the open. They are a sign of wealth and a target for an old-school mugger too. A thief may be out to heist and resell your physical watch, or they may more tech-savvy and have connections to sell your device to hackers. Smartwatches contain sensitive information and web histories. They are perfect for and digital thieves. Keep your new smartwatch on the down-low. Don’t leave it laying around in a hotel room. Cover it up when traveling in unfamiliar places and don’t invite thieves in.
You may be used to leaving your non-smart watch lying around. That is not a good idea with a smartwatch. If you have to leave alone, then add a security PIN to it.
Enable Anti-Theft Settings
Enable anti-theft settings like passwords and biometrics. Protect your Smartphone and smartwatch with a password, key swipe, fingerprint or other biometric information.
Many smartwatches are automatically locked when the paired smartphone goes out of range. Be sure that you use a PIN on the smartwatch to unlock it again. Also, use a PIN or key swipe on your phone. It only takes access to one of the pare devices to get into sensitive data. A PIN or biometrics login is an easy step to increase your device’s security.
Avoid Entering Financial Data on your Smartwatch
Avoid online shopping with your credit or worse yet, your debit card. Don’t log into bank accounts or other financial accounts from your smartwatch Watches are frequently left lying around, at home, in gym lockers, or otherwise, separate from the owner and the paired device. This alone time if a good opportunity for anyone to steal your login and data. Any financial information you entered as well as your browser history is stored on your device’s history, making it an open target for hackers.
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She conducts workshops focused on web technologies and enjoys public speaking along with her connected rescue mutt.