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Wearable tech set to become increasingly popular target for cyber attacks as sales rocket

It is “inevitable” that wearable tech will become more heavily targeted by cyber criminals as the technology is rapidly adopted by consumers, security firms claim.


With the wearables market projected to grow by 35 per cent year-on-year and numerous consumers taking to the tech to make payments on the go, security firms are claiming that that “it is inevitable that they will become a growing target for cyber attack”.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of all payments will be made using wearable technology by 2020, totalling an estimated global expenditure of $500 billion annually.

Consequently, security firms predicted increasing numbers of attacks on both mobile payments and wearable tech in 2016.

“Security should be built-in from the very outset,” said Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab. “There’s an urgent need to establish and implement higher levels of security for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

“As the number of connected devices continues to grow, so does the number of threats.

“And unfortunately there are millions of devices in active use today that were never designed to be secure.”

Malware has already been discovered with the ability to leverage fitness trackers to steal user information, while consumers have found methods of spoofing devices to claim rewards for fitness goals they have not achieved.

In a bid to ensure authenticity, privacy and integrity of online transactions, internet security firm WISeKey and security firm Kaspersky Lab have announced a collaborative effort to reinforce authentication methods and data encryption within wearables.

David Emm, a principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told Business Reporter that responsibility for the security of IoT devices currently lies with developers.

“Unlike with computers and mobiles, where it’s possible for end users to mitigate security risks with anti-virus products, there’s not necessarily anything consumers can do to secure smart watches against threats,” he said.

“It will take time for devices to become targets, but in time people are going to be using everything from fitness bands to mobile payment mechanisms and because this specifically involved money, it will be targeted by criminals.”

While certain manufacturers such as Bulgari already integrate WISeKey’s security software into their IoT watches, the firms hope to provide an extra layer of security to smart watches with the addition of Kaspersky Lab’s technology.

Jon Geater, chief technology officer at data security firm Thales e-Security, praised the initiative but said that bigger obstacles will face consumers wishing to use the technology in the future.

Speaking to Business Reporter, he said: “A payment is simply a trusted transaction between two people. How the trust is arranged is up to the participants. For smart watches, you can solve one part of this by concentrating on authentication and identification.

“It will be really interesting in the future to see how people balance the convenience they demand from technology with the need to protect themselves and their online identities, which they may have to more and more as payments become more flexible.”

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