In the digital age, hacks and scams seem to be increasingly a part of daily life. Now, a new threat is being posed by a somewhat unsuspicious culprit: the smart watch.
GPS-connected smart watches—of which models are made by everyone from Garmin to Apple—open the doors for hackers to access the location and even movement habits of users.
This possibility is especially frightening when paired with the growing trend of online devices marketed as keeping kids safe and providing peace of mind to parents. Seeing the chance for harm, the Better Business Bureau is warning the public of the potential danger, especially for children.
Jeremy Johnson, the communications manager for BBB Northwest and Pacific, said many people don’t even realize how smart watches are leaving them or their children vulnerable.
“Any time you’re using a smart device, whether it’s a watch on your hand, from your baby monitor to your refrigerator to your phone—anytime you are using one of those you are opening yourself up to hackers or con artists,” Johnson said.
According to research from the agency, the smart watch industry is currently about $4.8 billion. Many parents use the watches as a way to know the location of their child without the use of a cellphone.
“When we look at these GPS-connected smart watches for children, the one thing is you as a parent want to be aware of what information could come into that watch,” she said. “And then also just letting your children know about these type of things.”
The ways hackers can gain access to information on a mobile device are extensive and often well-disguised. Pop-up advertisements, links to video games, emails, online messages and more can all lead to compromised security.
In this regard, it’s essential to filter emails, be wary of what emails or messages are opened, and monitor privacy policies and mobile app permissions. Johnson said it is especially important to be wary of when you allow your location to be used.
“What we’ve seen with scammers and con artists is they’re constantly trying to customize the message to you,” she said. “The more they can customize, the more convincing they can be.”
For more information about the potential risks of smart watches and other business advice and reputation information, visit bbb.org.