Researchers say hackers can get info from smartwatches - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Researchers say hackers can get info from smartwatches

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While experts predict more than 100 million smartwatches and wearable fitness bands will be sold this year, users should be aware of what kind of security is behind it. (WFSB) While experts predict more than 100 million smartwatches and wearable fitness bands will be sold this year, users should be aware of what kind of security is behind it. (WFSB)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

They track your day-to-day activities, all the way down to the amount of steps you take.

It seems everywhere you look, people are sporting the latest technology on their wrists.

While experts predict more than 100 million smartwatches and wearable fitness bands will be sold this year, users should be aware of what kind of security is behind it.

All of the information you put on your Apple Watch or FitBit is supposed to be private, but the Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group at the University of New Haven said the information might be very public.

“There's a lot of private information on your phone. These days, it's everything. Your life, your contacts. Everything about you,” said Dave Walls, who owns an Apple watch.

The group at UNH released a study on smartwatches, and it shows in some cases when synched to a smartphone, hackers had the ability to get contact information, calendar notes, voice recordings and even peek into some email.

A thief could do some serious damage with that information.

“I don't want to have someone have my parents’ address, calendar information...if they see my calendar and see that I'm on vacation next week, they know my house is empty,” said Frank Breitinger, a researcher at UNH.

He said the devices are most vulnerable when they’re first released.

He said companies often get caught up in the glitz and glamour of their product, and that’s when security takes a back seat.

“You see a nice screen, how the buttons are, how long the battery lasts. These are all things the customer would see. But the actual security, you do not see,” Breitinger said.

While the study focused solely on smartwatches, researchers said your fitness trackers can be just as vulnerable because in both cases, the device works when paired with a phone.

“There's data that's moving, and whenever data is moving, there's also usually a way to get access to that data,” Breitinger said.

Researchers said they want to stress that just because information can be lifted, it doesn’t mean the smartphone it’s linked to is just as vulnerable.

But, the highly personal information found on an average smartwatch does cause concerns, especially for those who admittedly have their lives in there.

“Like everything these days, you just have to be confident in what you got and be careful about what you store,” Walls said.

Researchers said it is best to keep up with security updates and never pair a device with public wi-fi, and put a passcode on if you can.

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