In case you have an iPhone and still do not wear an Apple Watch, then it is almost true this gadget is at the top of your wish list. First released back in 2015, Apple Watch evolved from a gadget that deeply relied on pairing with your iPhone to an intelligent and autonomous IoT device.
The latest version of Apple Watch is widely used to stay informed of social messages, pay for goods, manage a smart home, track your workout, monitor your health, and do plenty of other awesome things. It delivers really a seamless user experience.
At the same, it stores a lot of your private data. It is in your best interest to safeguard it from evil eyes. Your text messages, your credit card details for Apple Pay, and your emails are just a few examples of what needs to be protected.
Although most people do know that they need to protect this sensitive data, the overall awareness of the watchOS built-in security mechanisms is not as high.
This post will bridge the gap by providing you important tips to be sure your personal data stays safe even in a worst-case scenario.
Setting up a passcode is the most effective way to avoid unauthorized access to your device and its data.
If you do not implement this mechanism from the start, you may do it at any later point:
- Open the Apple Watch app on your paired smartphone
- Go to My Watch
- Press Passcode
Your passcode must be at least four digits long. You can also set a much more secure variant by entering up to 10 digits.
This process can also be done on the Apple Watch:
- Click Settings
- Tap Passcode
- Click Turn Passcode On
- Enter your code
It is important that the Apple Watch passcode does not match the passcode set on your iPhone. This way you will steer away from a single point of failure.
You are not obliged to enter the passcode every time you unlock the Watch (as opposed to the Passcode Lock feature on iPhones.) Your watch comes with a Wrist Detection function that automatically locks it once you take it off. The device will ask for the passcode when you put it on or restart the gadget.
To make things even easier, there is also the Unlock with iPhone feature. It is available from the Watch app on your iPhone. Once this feature is enabled, the watch will unlock whenever you unlock the smartphone.
To give your security an extra boost, you may set the number of unsuccessful unlock attempts after which personal data gets deleted from the device. By default, there is a one-minute delay after incorrect passcodes are entered six times in a row.
Although setting the device to erase all data may be like a scorched-earth tactic, it can really save you if an evil-minded person puts his on your device.
On the other hand, this could be a serious problem. You may forget the passcode and quickly exceed the limit of wrong login attempts. Only having a backup to restore your data can save you in this scenario. It is recommended to use the Erase Data function only after weighing up all the pros and cons.
Sometimes Apple Watches get stolen, sometimes people simply misplace it. Any security mechanism enabled beforehand is really a cold comfort as you may never see your digital pal again. However, you can always prevent your data from being obtained by third parties. Activation Lock does the trick. It makes the smartwatch completely useless for anybody who finds or steals it. Please mind it requires watchOS 2 or above.
Once enabled, Activation Lock just “bricks” the device. No malefactor will be able to unpair it from your iPhone or pair it with his phone or deactivate the geolocation function (unless he knows your Apple ID and password.)
In case the Find My feature is enabled, Activation Lock turns on automatically. Just check it one more time to be sure it is up and running:
- Open the Watch app on your iPhone
- Go to My Watch
- Tap the “i” icon
- In case Find My is listed there – it means the feature enabled
The good side of this function is that it does not require an Internet connection.
As mentioned above, the Find My iPhone option has got your Apple Watch covered so that you can find your lost device. It is strange now, but the first generation of Apple Watch did not have the GPS module. So, its whereabouts could not be determined this way.
Starting with Apple Watch Series 2, the gadget was equipped with the GPS module but still relied on its paired iPhone to be found.
Beginning with Series 3, Apple Watch boasts LTE connectivity and so users can benefit from Find My feature to locate it based on signals from nearby cell towers. You do not even need to use the iPhone to find the Apple Watch. This option is available on iCloud.com.
Find My option provides another feature called Lost Mode. It permits to specify a short message to be displayed on the screen of the Apple Watch. In case some kind people find it, they may read your email address or phone number and contact you. Lost Mode is also good as it blocks Apple Pay on your smartwatch.
With so much of our data being collected by online services these days, and so many phishing attacks, privacy becomes our top priority. Many of you may want to hide personal messages and notifications from curious friends or snoops. Thankfully, Notification Privacy is one more remarkable feature available on watchOS. To turn it on:
- Go to the Watch app on your iPhone
- Click My Watch
- Go to Notifications
- Slide the Notification Privacy toggle to the right
From now on, the Apple Watch will still let you know there is a new message, but no actual details will be shown on the screen. To see the actual message, just tap the alert.
Not only does Apple Watch help you be well-organized and stay connected at all times, but it also goes with quite a few security features that protect your personal data and privacy from various attacks targeting Apple devices. Although some people fail to apply these simple security mechanisms, it is never too late to do it and enjoy both security and convenience.
David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 17 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs Privacy-PC.com and MacSecurity.net projects that present expert opinions on contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, malware, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy, and white hat hacking. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures. https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-balaban/