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Apple Watches banned from UK cabinet meetings due to growing security concerns

In an attempt to block foreign hackers from compromising the devices of British politicians to access sensitive information, Apple Watches have been banned from use during official cabinet meetings.

The UK's prime minister Theresa May has informed elected ministers that just as mobile phones are not allowed, high-end smartwatches will no longer be permitted as they pose a security risk. An inside source informed The Telegraph that “The Russians are trying to hack everything.”

Under David Cameron's administration, a few cabinet members were seen wearing smartwatches. Michael Gove was one such cabinet member who was responsible for disrupting cabinet proceedings when his Pebble watch played a clip of a Beyonce song.

Tensions have risen as of late in part due to the security breaches that occurred in June at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Both of these breaches were blamed on attackers whose ties could be traced back to Russia's Kremlin.

On 7 October, the US intelligence community released a landmark statement in which it formally accused Russia of carrying out the hacks, saying: “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorised these activities.”

The UK is not the only country that has raised concerns behind the potential security threats posed by smartwatches. Alastair MacGibbon, the cyber advisor for Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull,  confirmed that smartwatches had also been banned from use in Australian cabinet meetings.

MacGibbon offered his own insight into how limiting the number of connected devices in a room has become essential for security reasons: “In a world in which it is necessary for government to have conversations that truly have no electronics in the room.  There are going to be more and more items that will have to be locked away in cabinets.” 

Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.