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Apple Watch security flaw provides easy target for thieves

The Apple Watch has a significant security flaw which increases the potential for thieves to make money on stolen devices.

Despite iPhones and iPads possessing an extra security layer which prevents them from being used without the correct password or PIN, the Apple Watch can be easily reset and sold on.

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The Find my iPhone feature has been in existence since 2013 and disables a handset unless the email address or password of the owner’s iCloud account is supplied. Even if the iPhone is subsequently wiped and restored, thieves will still not be able to use the device, rendering it largely useless.

According to Jeff Benjamin from iDownloadBlog, resetting the Apple Watch is a straightforward process. After entering the watch’s passcode incorrectly six times, the user will be locked out of the device temporarily. During this time, if they hold the side button and then press the “power off” button, they are given the option of erasing all content and pre-existing settings.

"There was no request to verify the Apple ID that I was using previously, and absolutely nothing present in Watch OS 1.0 to prevent a thief from stealing my watch, resetting it, and pairing it with their own device," explained Mr Benjamin.

As the Apple Watch cannot access the Internet without being paired to a nearby iPhone, it is not possible for Apple to launch a Find My Apple Watch feature, like they have for the iPad, iPod and Mac.

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Users can at least be reassured that their personal data cannot be accessed from an illegally acquired Apple Watch, but the lack of additional security will make the device a potentially lucrative proposition for thieves. If Apple can implement a deterrent similar to the one in place for the iPhone, owners of the wearable gadget are likely to sleep a little easier.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.