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Apple Watch easy target for hackers due to out of date components

The Government of India has warned that the Apple Watch is an easy target for hackers due to some components being out of date.

They recommend that Apple Watch owners in the country upgrades to version 8.7 of the operating system which is the sixth major update to WatchOS 8. That update has apparently addressed this vulnerability.

That version was released on July 20th and it is the final release supported on Watch Series 3. This is also the final version to support iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, SE (1st gen), 7 and 7 plus.

The next edition we are expecting is watchOS 9. This is already on its third beta, and a release date will fall sometime in September.

What the Indian Government has said

The “high severity” warning on the Apple Watch vulnerability comes from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN). This is a department that sits under the Minister of Electronics and information Technology in India.

It applies to Apple smartwatches that are running on WatchOS versions below 8.7. It seems there’s a software flaw which may allow hackers to bypass the company’s security restrictions.

“Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and bypass security restrictions on the targeted device,” reads the warning.

What this means is that hackers could attempt phishing assaults, i.e. execute arbitrary code to remotely access data sitting on someone’s watch. The buffer overflow in the AppleAVD component is what is causing this issue.

CERT-IN also discovered some other vulnerabilities such as “type confusion in Multi-touch component, Multiple out-of-bounds write and memory corruption in GPU Drivers component, out-of bounds read in Kernel component and Memory initialisation in libxml2 component”.

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The good news for those in India is that updating to watchOS 8.7 will address these security issues. So if you have not downloaded the latest version of the operating system, now might be a good time to do so. In the meantime, there’s no need to panic. These types of security flaws are often flagged up by investigative teams.

The software is free and can be installed via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Simply go to General > Software Update and follow the instructions. As always with these types of updates, make sure the watch has at least 50 percent of battery life in it and that it is resting on the charger.

The update itself does not bring any new features. The change log says the software focuses on bug fixes, security updates and other under-the-hood improvements.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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