Watch Out!

Posted April 21, 2015

5 Apple Watch Security Questions That are Causing Enterprise Security Pros to be Concerned

Apple Watch is hot. Not hot as in stolen, but hot as in hot.

The Watch word is that it’s been sold out in preorders. Umm. You don’t think Tim Cook went out and ordered a couple of thousand? That’s what some book publishers did back in the day (after dinosaurs but before the Internet) when they wanted to get a book on The New York Times bestseller list. They’d find out which book outlets The Times was using as a barometer of sales, go to those outlets and buy tons of copies of their own books. And no. We don’t really think Tim is doing that.

With the popularity of the Apple Watch it looks like these watches and other wearables could become targets of cybercriminals. In her piece on csoonline.com, Maria Korolov asks experts about possible problems an Apple Watch could pose to an enterprise. The following has been excerpted from Korolov’s piece and edited to fit our format. You may find her complete article by clicking on this link.

Apple Watch a spying device?

We’ve already seen examples of iPhone spy apps that can listen to near-by conversations. Companies with particular security concerns, such as those in the defense sector, may already be asking their employees to leave their phones before entering sensitive areas. Those policies will now have to be expanded to include all smart wearable devices.

Could attackers eavesdrop on watch-to-phone communications?

According to Apple, the Apple Watch will communicate with the iPhone via WiFi and Bluetooth. That creates a potential opportunity for attackers to spoof one device or another.

What about third-party apps?

“The fact the Apple Watch also integrates third-party apps could also increase security and privacy concerns,” said [Ken Westin, senior security analyst at Tripwire.]

One novel feature of the Apple Watch is that it allows developers to split the functionality of their apps into two parts. Graphical components, for example, could be provided via the watch’s screen, said Jamie Boote, security consultant at Cigital. “This may expose communications and [functions] that were previously handled internally.”

A badly-designed application could potentially offer a wireless gateway to an iPhone’s contents. This could be especially convenient for crooks who, right now, typically need physical access to [a] phone…to do serious damage.

Will corporate apps create privacy issues?

If the Apple Watch gains widespread adoption, it may become convenient to use it to unlock computers, cars, and office doors. But the same apps that can make life more convenient for employees, can also create opportunities for employers to keep an eye on them. For example, the device can be used to track people’s physical locations, said Tripwire’s Westin.

Will the Apple Watch make the iPhone more vulnerable?

Some security-conscious users will routinely turn off their phone’s WiFi or Bluetooth services when in insecure locations or traveling. But if the Apple Watch functionality relies on those services…, they may be tempted to leave them on.

“Connecting to untrusted WiFi points can lead to man-in-the-middle attacks,” said [Jamie Boote, security consultant at Cigital]. “And Bluetooth seems to get a vulnerability or exploit every other year.”

The real issue, said [Steve Hultquist, chief evangelist at RedSeal] is complexity. “All of the comments about potential security issues are conjecture at this point, and more than anything point to the challenges of understanding the security of complex, interconnected systems.” Those challenges include understanding what communication access is possible, what access might be possible under unexpected situations, and what the implications are of unanticipated access. “These are the same questions every enterprise must answer about their enterprise network and its security architecture,” he said.

ThreatMetrix

ThreatMetrix

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