INTRUDER: Smart wearables are also cyber-physical systems that can record, store and process physical parameters. Picture: Pexels

After this, you may eye your smartwatch with some suspicion, and maybe that’s not such a bad idea, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

Technology is becoming smarter. The downside? It’s close to outsmarting us. The upside? The human race is still smarter for now.

If you’re into the latest gadgets, chances are you own a smartwatch. Yes, it’s great for showing off to your friends, checking your mails and your step counts. But chances are, it can be used a tool to spy on you.

Kaspersky Lab recently conducted a survey on how these gadgets can be used to collect data on their owners without them knowing.

The cyber security company conducted a broad analysis of the impact that the proliferation of the IoT (Internet of Things) can have on the daily lives of users and their information security.

It may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but the reality is more frightening.

“Smart wearables are not just miniature gadgets, they are cyber-physical systems that can record, store and process physical parameters. Our research shows that even very simple algorithms being run on the smartwatch are able to capture the unique user’s profile of accelerometer and gyroscope signals,” said Sergey Lurye, a security enthusiast and co-author of the research at Kaspersky Lab.

“These profiles can then be used to de-anonymise the user and track his or her activities, including the moments when entering sensitive information. And this can be done via legitimate smartwatch apps that covertly send signal data to third parties.”

Are you worried yet? You should be.

Smart wearable devices, including smartwatches and fitness trackers, are commonly used in sporting activities to monitor health and receive push notifications. Most of these devices are equipped with built-in acceleration sensors, which are often combined with rotation sensors for step counting and identifying the user’s position.

STYLING: Wearable tech like smartwatches are all the rage right now.

So what Kaspersky Lab experts decided to do was to examine what user information these sensors could provide to unauthorised third parties.

What they found was that by using mathematical algorithms available to the smart wearable’s computing power, it was possible to identify behavioural patterns, periods of time when and where users were moving and how long they were doing it.

But here’s the shocking part: it was possible to identify sensitive user activities, including entering a pass phrase on the computer (with accuracy of up to 96%), entering a PIN code at the ATM (approximately 87%) and unlocking the cellphone (approximately 64%).

Imagine if this information got into the hands cyber criminals? It’s not that far-fetched.

They could take it further and try to identify your personal info, either through an email address that was requested at the registration stage in the app or via turned-on access to Android account credentials.

Imagine, all you wanted to do was maintain a healthy lifestyle with your fab new smartwatch. I bet you’re not wearing it anymore, are you?