With the Apple Watch due for release early next year many industry commentators are predicting that a whole swathe of competitor devices are likely to follow suit. So, just as most of us now have smart phones, in a couple of years time we could be using smart watch technology in the same way. As part of the Apple family, the Apple Watch is likely to face the same security issues as the iPhone, which we now know, after years of assuming it was impenetrable, is fully hackable. Given the amount of sensitive data that the Apple Watch will contain is this simply another device that will give hackers the opportunity to access private data?
As smart phone technology has developed, more and more of our data is being put into apps like the new Health app and Apple Pay, which contains pre-loaded credit card or debit card information. Apple has done its best to protect the new loads of data that we are going to be parting with – for example by requiring a pin code to access Apple Pay on the Apple Watch and allowing users to decide which apps can access the data on the phone – but will this be enough? Recent months have seen a significant uptick in the number of hacking attacks targeting Apple products and this kind of data goldmine will surely only serve to increase the temptation to try.
Despite many forecasters focusing on the likely increase in hacking attempts when the Apple Watch is released, the iOS operating system is actually relatively secure when it comes to malware. In the first six months of 2014, 295 new families and variants of mobile malware were discovered. However, 294 of these were on Android and only one on the Apple iOS operating system. Unless a phone has gone through ‘jailbreaking’ – which allows a user to install apps and tweaks not authorised by Apple by removing security protections – then malware appears, so far, to be fairly ineffective. Phishing scams and Wi-Fi hacking remain serious problems for all users but the threat from hacking apps on iOS is almost completely non-existent. So it looks like Apple Watch users will be secure initially, however, it’s worth bearing in mind how quickly hacking evolves, particularly where there is a substantial prize involved. We can only hope that the big tech giants can keep up with the hackers.
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