Yikes. Smartwatches made by Samsung and LG may not be that good in keeping personal data safe. According to research conducted by the University of New Haven, personal and private information can be extracted from two of smartwatches currently available in the market today -- the Samsung Gear 2 Neo and the LG G Watch.
Among the personal data retrieved from the Samsung Gear 2 Neo smartwatch were email addresses, messages, contacts lists, and health related information. None of these data whatsoever were encrypted. As for the LG G Watch, information like email addresses, contacts list, calendar, and pedometer data were also vulnerable.
As admitted by Ibrahim Baggili, the director of the university's Cyber Forensics Research and Education Group (UNHCFREG), it took some expertise and some research to retrieve personal information from these smartwatches. It may not have been easy for sure, but hackers and other people with malicious intent often are more persistent -- if researchers from a university can do it, then all more these criminal minded people can.
We now live in an age wherein we are more dependent on all kinds of mobile devices and gadgets. And because we do almost everything with the help of these devices, we often store sensitive information in them. And the fact that we are now transitioning into a more connected age (i.e. the Internet of Things), more of our devices are storing personal data.
As for smartwatches, the good news is that relatively only a few people own them. But with the recent release of the Apple Watch, industry watchers are expecting smartwatches and other wearable devices to grow in popularity. As more people start wearing and using smartwatches, it is imperative that makers of wearable devices find a way to keep personal data stored in these devices safe and secure.
Of course, encryption is one of the more obvious solution. In this method, the information is scrambled so that it becomes accessible or decipherable only to those with authorization. Still, encryption is not a fool proof answer. If hackers can get hold of your password, encryption is essentially rendered useless. But having some sort of protection is better than nothing at all.
As for the smartwatches being tested, their makers may need to review the hardware or the software for that matter. The Samsung Gear 2 Neo runs on Samsung's Tizen operating system for wearables, while the LG G Watch runs on Google's Android Wear system. Interestingly, the university is now starting to perform the same test on the Apple Watch.
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