While the iPhone has been protected by an automatically activated security measure, the Activation Lock, that feature doesn’t seem to exist on the Apple Watch. A post on iDownloadBlog on Wednesday details an easily exploited security hole in the high profile (and expensive) wearable that could allow thieves who steal an Apple Watch to reset it for later use or resale. That’s a big deal.
Activation Lock is an iOS feature that requires a user to enter an Apple ID and Password to turn off Find My iPhone, which essentially makes any stolen iPhone much, much less enticing as a target. That’s because reselling a device that can still be claimed by its original owner makes the entire enterprise a lot riskier for bad guys. The result of the Activation Lock feature was a dramatic decrease in the number of stolen iPhones out there.
But as the above video post reveals, anyone can perform a hard reset on an Apple Watch, with no need to enter a passcode, Apple ID, or any other security measures. If you’re curious, try it out: do a long press on the contacts button, force touch the “power off” bubble until you see an option to erase the Watch, and then attach a charger. Bingo bango bongo—you’ve got a brand new Apple Watch.
It stands to reason that Apple will provide a patch of some kind to close this security gap pretty soon. Since the Apple Watch is still pretty new, it’s unlikely that too many have been stolen just yet, especially given the security that comes with literally strapping something to your body. That said, wearables sometimes get taken off—ask anyone sweating on a hot day whether or not that feeling is made better with the presence of a watch.
In the meantime, take greater care with your Apple Watch—and make sure it’s strapped on tight. If Apple doesn’t fix this soon, don’t be surprised to see a wave of Apple Watch thefts taking off before too long.