A lack of security features in the Apple Watch has left the device extremely vulnerable to thieves, iDownloadBlog has found.
The iPhone and other modern smartphones come with “kill switches” and security features that can stop potential thieves from using the device — essentially rendering it useless if stolen. Since their introduction, these features have massively disincentivised smartphone theft, as thieves learn it will be difficult to sell the devices on afterwards.
But Apple’s new smartwatch has no such built-in measures — and it’s trivial to reset the wearable and pair it with a new iPhone.
iDownloadBlog have put together a video showing the process. In less than a minute, without needing to enter a password, anyone can reset the Apple Watch to factory settings, and then pair it with their own iPhone, ready to use. This won’t allow them access to the owner’s data — but the majority of users’ information tends to be stored on their iPhone anyway.
Additionally, the Apple Watch has no GPS hardware of its own — it is reliant on the GPS tracker in the iPhone. This means if it is stolen, unlike the iPhone, you cannot track its whereabouts.
Here’s how the vulnerability works. First, you long-press the power button on the right to bring up the shutdown settings.
Then, hold down on “Power off” to bring up an option to “Erase all content and settings.” This works even if the passcode hasn’t been entered.
Once connected to a power source, it then double-checks one last time.
Click the tick, and the device will wipe itself and reset, ready to be paired with the thief’s iPhone.
Here’s the video:
There’s documented evidence showing that “kill switches” work to discourage theft. In February 2015, Reuters reported that over the past 12 months, theft of smartphones around the world had plummeted due to the inclusion of advanced security features blocking thieves from using stolen devices.
In San Francisco, the number of stolen iPhones was down 40%. In London, theft was cut in half, according to officials, as thieves apparently realised there is little point, and stopped bothering.
But for now, however, the Apple Watch is fair game.