U.S. feds now want to search Apple Watch

“In at least one federal case, the government has sought to search an Apple Watch, Forbes has discovered,” Thomas Fox-Brewster reports for Forbes. “That should be of little surprise: according to the first person to jailbreak the wearable tech, it doesn’t have the same levels of hardware security as the iPhone but contains much of the same data, from text messages to location information.”

“For reasons that are unclear, the cops in that one case, involving a drug trafficking investigation in Ohio, weren’t able to execute the warrant for an Apple Watch Series 2,” Fox-Brewster reports. “But what’s clear, from that case and another warrant obtained by Forbes that unsuccessfully sought to acquire information from an unnamed pink and black smart watch, is that the feds are seeking access to wearables. And the latest research into the security of the Apple Watch might be of use to them.”

“Max Bazaliy, a researcher at cellphone-focused security firm Lookout, said his watchOS 2 jailbreak technique could provide important research for forensics experts as they seek to break the security protections put in place by Apple,” Fox-Brewster reports. “There’s a significant caveat regarding Bazaliy’s jailbreak: it doesn’t work on any WatchOS later than 3.1.1, released to consumers back in January. Apple has patched the vulnerabilities.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bury the lede, why don’t you?

Our Apple Watches are currently running watchOS 3.2.3 and they’ll be running watchOS 4 within weeks.

If you haven’t updated your Apple Watch to the latest watchOS version, do so as soon as possible.

It goes without saying that governments will want to search anything and everything, including wearables. Hopefully, Apple can continue to bolster Apple Watch’s already rather robust security defenses (as described in the full article, even the old watchOS 2 had already gotten quite complex to crack).

To update the software on your Apple Watch:
• Make sure your Apple Watch is on its charger and has at least a 50 percent charge.
• Keep your Apple Watch on its charger until the update completes.
• Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi.
• Keep your iPhone next to your Apple Watch to make sure they’re in range.

1. On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then tap General > Software Update.
2. Download the update. If asked for your iPhone passcode or Apple Watch passcode, enter it.
3. Wait for the progress wheel to appear on your Apple Watch.

• Don’t restart your iPhone or Apple Watch, and don’t quit the Apple Watch app.
• When the update completes, your Apple Watch will restart on its own.

45 Comments

  1. Another attempt by Apple’s home country to attack and destroy something they greatly fear (from a very long list), a level playing field where everyone’s privacy is secure.

    1. It isn’t just America. The United Kingdom and Australia have gone much farther down the road towards prohibiting truly secure encryption on digital devices.

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/25/uk_to_push_antiencryption_laws_after_election/

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-14/facebook-google-to-be-forced-to-decrypt-messages-fight-terrorism/8707748

      A former head of the NSA describes those efforts as “middle of the pack” among nations that are addressing the issue. He accurately describes the problem—allowing democratic governments with robust warrant requirements access to criminal communications will genuinely help protect the public, but doing so without also allowing access to legitimate communications by bad actors (an even bigger public danger) is unachievable from a technical point of view.

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-01/former-nsa-boss-questions-malcolm-turnbull-encryption-laws/8761542

      Citizens of the free world (and I include the USA in that, Road Warrior) need to be focussing on the dangers in their own countries and not be fulminating about China and Russia doing what authoritarian countries always do. If the country that wrote the Magna Carta and the only country that competes with the US for rugged individualism can shut down any semblance of a secure Internet within their jurisdiction, every country will soon be doing the same.

      Don’t kid yourself that the US Government won’t be among them. There have already been comments by the President and Attorney General urging tech firms to provide access to secure communications between their customers. This is an administration that is (1) repurposing its Civil Rights Division to pursue discrimination against middle-class white people while (2) making jokes about unnecessary force while in the only jurisdiction in America with its former police chief in prison for abusing a prisoner and (3) proposing changes in the First Amendment so that politicians can sue even the most scrupulous reporter for an unfavorable story.

      Don’t be distracted by the shiny object in China or the squirrel in Russia; look for dangers in your own back yard.

      1. Always lovely to read your posts TxUser and I agree that the UK and anustralia have intended laws to infiltrate people’s privacy, it’s an issue in many nations, and yes there are those that will follow the folly of your nation.

        I do take exception of your nation being part of the free world. You left that long ago, nations of the free world don’t torture and don’t invade other nations on a whim, it’s as simple as that.

        In terms of rugged individualism, well I took a quick peak at the top 10 most democratic nations according to the 2015 democratic index and unsurprisingly your nation is not in the top 10 but Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, Finland are. A lot of these nations also make the top 10 on the Global Peace index. These are the true leaders of the free and civilized world, not by the thumping of their chest and proclamations on how great and free and civilized they are but by the way they conduct themselves.

        They have not followed your lead on torture, disregarding the sovereignty of other nations, holding people indefinitely without justice and so on, they haven’t been following your nation’s path.

        You can continue to delude yourself that other nations follow what your nation does and that you are part of the free world, but the walk is more important than the talk and the way your nation behaves towards the rest of the world is atrocious and certainly not part of the actions of a free and civilized nation. The body count in Iraq by the way is nearing 200,000 people. I sure hope you find that weapons of mass destruction program soon so you can stop slaughtering innocent people over there but I doubt it will end any time soon.

          1. Ah thanks for that John Dingler. I’ve been using the Iraqi body count web site, which gives a daily tally on the deaths over there. Seems they underestimate the number of deaths, most of innocent civilians.

            Most sensible thinkers would realize that there is no weapons of mass destruction program and that Apple’s home nation is there because it is addicted to war and other atrocities it can inflict upon others.

            Have a great day.

        1. I’m not defending censorship for anybody. I’m just pointing out that China and Russia are not the only governments in the world that have targeted VPNs and other forms of end-to-end encryption. Every country on earth is moving in that direction.

          There isn’t a lot that Apple (or we) can do about authoritarian countries that are behaving like authoritarian countries always do. In contrast, Western countries like the UK, Australia, and the US should be responsive to public pressure. Someplace in those governments there should be somebody with a basic science education who can understand that encryption that the government (or a company acting at the behest of the government) can easily penetrate is perhaps worse than having no security at all.

          Claiming that the ban on unlicensed VPNs in China is due to the foibles of Communism ignores the very real domestic danger to Western values from those who claim to be patriots. “It can’t happen here” didn’t play out too well in the 1930s, you know.

          1. I actually oppose it for everybody. When the First Amendment says that there shall be no laws abridging free speech, press, petition, and assembly, I read that as NO law. I find the suppression of the those human rights in authoritarian countries to be appalling.

            That said, I don’t want those of us who support civil liberties to divert our attention to China from what is happening in our own country. Apple is facing a hard fight right here in America and I don’t want them dissipating their resources on fights they cannot win.

            1. yes or no?

              Do you advocate Tim Cook’s acquiescence to Communist China’s mandate that only they control what VPN’s can appear on Apple’s China App Store?

  2. In the UK it’s ‘bury the lead’ so I googled ‘lede’

    Top result:
    bury the lede:
    phrase of lede:
    US
    fail to emphasize the most important part of a story or account.
    “one should always listen carefully to the president, as he has a tendency to bury the lede”
    You couldn’t make this stuff up!

  3. I do worry about the security on an Apple Watch. It being protected by a 4 digit code does seem like a step back in security. When unlocking it could they not get you to approve it from your phone using TouchID or something?

    1. You can set it up to use a longer passcode. I use 6 digits on mine. I believe you have the same options for a complex passcode as on the iPhone, but I’m not certain. I just know you’re not limited to four digits.

  4. The Doughnut Patrol and the DAs want you to not have any privacy right and wish your devices to essentially testify against you- negating the principle of protecting people from self-incrimination. John Roberts told the cops to get a warrant but apparently that is not good enough for our creeping police state.

    Riley V California:
    9-0 vote “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple, get a warrant.”
    Chief Justice John Roberts

    https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-132_8l9c.pdf

    A digital watch should be extended the same consideration.

    It is shit like this that made me join the ACLU.

    1. “The Doughnut Patrol and the DAs want you to not have any privacy right and wish your devices to essentially testify against you- negating the principle of protecting people from self-incrimination.”

      I’m not sure if your belongings ‘testifying’ against you count as ‘self-incrimination’. That’s like saying finding your fingerprints on your kitchen utensils upon examination is ‘self-incrimination’.

  5. I sure hope this does portend an effort by CBP to require us to allow them to inspect our Watches or force us to turn them over for further examination. What kind of police state are we turning into?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.