Apple Watch Vulnerable to Theft With No Activation Lock

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 13, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Our iPhones and iPads are protected by Activation Lock, a security feature that prevents thieves from wiping and using a stolen Apple device with a new account, but the recently released Apple Watch has no similar security feature.

    As pointed out by iDownloadBlog in a detailed post on the security of the Apple Watch, there is nothing that stops a lost or stolen Apple Watch from being wiped and paired with a new iPhone. The Apple Watch has a passcode option that requires a sequence of numbers to be entered every time it's removed from a wrist, but the passcode protects only data.

    The passcode is also easily bypassed with a reset. Pressing down on the side button of the Apple Watch brings up the power down options and a force press on this screen brings up an option to Erase All content and Settings. Erasing the Apple Watch in this manner erases the passcode and allows the Apple Watch to be paired with a new device, with no hint of the original owner's information available.

    Because there's no Activation Lock and because the Apple Watch is reliant on the iPhone, there's also no Find My iPhone option to locate a lost or stolen Apple Watch. Due to this lack of security, it's possible the Apple Watch will become a major target for thieves.

    It's an expensive device (especially the higher-end Edition versions), it's compact, it's highly desirable, it has a high resale value like all of Apple's products, and it's easily visible on a wrist rather than hidden away in a bag or pocket like an iPhone. In short, it's an easy target for muggers.

    iPhone theft in major cities like San Francisco and New York became such an issue that government officials called for Apple and other cell phone manufacturers to implement a "kill switch" that would disable stolen devices, leading to the eventual release of Activation Lock alongside iOS 7.

    Activation Lock had a positive impact on smartphone thievery, dropping iPhone theft by 25 percent in New York, 40 percent in San Francisco, and 50 percent in London as of early 2015. If Apple Watch theft causes crime rates to spike like iPhone theft, it's possible lawmakers will once again step in to call upon Apple to improve the security of the wrist worn device.

    As iDownloadBlog notes, Apple could potentially introduce stricter security measures in a future version of Watch OS. A simple solution would check the last known Apple ID of a paired device, refusing a new connection without a password or other authentication. Given the number of sensors in the Apple Watch, it's also not unimaginable that a future biometric solution could also be implemented for additional security.

    Article Link: Apple Watch Vulnerable to Theft With No Activation Lock
  2. bbeagle macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2010
    Buffalo, NY
    Why is only Apple Watch singled out?

    EVERY smart watch and NON-smart watch - even those costing thousands of dollars more - operates in the same way. Lose the watch, or get it stolen, someone else can use it like it was theirs.

    Every Rolex, Timex, Moto 360.... all work the same way. Why single out Apple Watch?
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Well if thieves didn't know what to do before, they do now.

    At least this article should bring it to Apple's attention. I foresee an update shortly.
  4. Goldfrapp macrumors 601


    Jul 31, 2005
    Not an issue since there are only 5 watches in the wild.
  5. goobot macrumors 603


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    Because this is an apple form.
  6. furam90 macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    I also made a thread on the forums before regarding the optical sensor protection flaw.

    It is easily bypassable, if someone just puts their finger underneath the sensor when taking off the device they are not prompted for a PIN. So you could easily take someone elses information as well.

    Of course, my post was dismissed and people said it wasn't an issue.
  7. max-man macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2015
    Seriously? This makes it as news? Who cares? The data is protected, that is far more important.

    You buy a Rolex and it gets stolen... guess what? the thief can still wear it and check the time.
  8. jthesssin macrumors regular


    May 6, 2013
    Matthews NC
    Agree with all of you

    Why is this an issue? The other smartwatches on the market don't even have basic passcode security, let alone findmy****.
    This will get blown all out of proportion as all other ****gates related to Apple.
    The good news is, its only a problem, cause people actually WANT to steal a smart-watch now :)
    GO APPLE!!! :)
  9. turtl3rs macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2015
    VA, USA
    Great, right when I was thinking that if a thief stole my watch, he/she wouldn't be able to unlock or erase it, thereby making it useless.
  10. jsalda macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2008
    I agree. The only thing I can add is that the Apple Watch is a high profile piece. Most thieves will be able to instantly recognize it, whereas they would not be able to tell the difference between a Patek Phillipe and a Timex.
  11. deadandalive macrumors member


    Apr 25, 2015
    Thanks for the step by step instructions letting people know why it is a great idea to steal my Watch
  12. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    It's a non-issue because it's securely strapped to your wrist. Phones are an easy target because it's easy to pick pocket, or to grab out of a purse, or to just grab it right out of someone's hands as they're using it.

    Stealing a watch requires you to be willing to do more than just basic robbery and actually assault or threaten someone. Obviously people willing to commit such crimes exist, but I think they are a minority among those willing to steal.
  13. Jack Delgado macrumors regular

    Jack Delgado

    May 11, 2012
    If we applied the rationale that the Apple watch shouldn't leverage any technology over what we've had in the past (read: Rolex); then there literally is no reason to have an Apple watch. We shouldn't give Apple a pass for doing the same things the stuff they're trying to replace would also do.
  14. diddl14 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2009
    Guess an option is to buy a cover that hides its true identify..

  15. jthesssin macrumors regular


    May 6, 2013
    Matthews NC
    Except for one thing

    This was reposted BY this story did not originate with them. OTHERS are bringing the lack of activation lock to the general publics attention
  16. max-man macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2015
    This actually is a big issue. I just did it to my coworker just now. you are right, I did the slight of hand removal of his watch and I was able to keep it from locking.

    But he did know I was taking it off, I am not that good.
  17. BCWorld macrumors 6502


    Jun 6, 2011
    Atlanta GA
    Said this in the beginning. The theft will be high with no way to track the watch. Once apple adds Lte I'm in, until then I'm out.

    I'm done here and
    I'm out.

  18. ka-spot macrumors 6502a

    May 23, 2012
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    no worries !

    i'll keep mine in a bank tresor ;)

  19. Switchback666 macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2012
    Same as everything on a wrist, when its gone its gone unless your lucky.

    I don't think this is a problem but if apple wants to apply something like activation lock its cool
  20. RDeckard macrumors regular


    Sep 23, 2013
    There are 3 people in my office that have one (including me) -- so we make up 60% of the Apple Watches in the wild?

  21. ukcolinr macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    My first watch that was due for delivery on launch day 'went missing' from UPS and I was told all UPS had was an empty box (luckily Apple got me out a replacement within a week). I specifically asked Apple whilst on the phone if they would block this Apple Watch so it could not be activated and was told no by the representative I spoke to. I actually assumed I'd been given incorrect information as it seemed crazy, but maybe not having read this article. I can appreciate what those are saying above that any other watch that would be it, but if it can be done now with a Smart Watch then why not do it as a deterrent to thieves?
  22. TheRainKing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2012
    Strange… It's just software so why wouldn't Apple Watch have the same sort of security features the iOS devices have?
  23. RenoG macrumors 65816

    Oct 7, 2010
    Maybe it's me but I'd rather hit a distracted business man over his head for his 10k Rolex than some hipster for his apple watch. If I were a heartless low life scum of the earth thief that is.
  24. Lictor macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2008
    Because thieves won't steal Rolex and even less Moto 360. They know the stolen Apple Watch, especially when it's still in short supply, will sell fast and well. The Rolex for instance, is too expensive to sell quickly and if you don't have proof of purchase they will be considered knock off.
  25. andrewmaj macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2012
    Jacksonville, FL
    In other news the sky is blue and grass is green.

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