Please turn your device

Garmin Global Outage Proves That Wearables Still Have Ways To Go

Much like voice recognition, wearable technology has started resembling those child prodigy athletes that never fulfilled their potential. 

The hype for wearable technology is proving to be higher than the actual product and occurrences like the one this past weekend come to reinforce this idea. 

Wearable powerhouse Garmin was the victim of a ransomware attack that caused the problems to Garmin Connect and flyGarmin. The company issued an apology on its official website and later came out with a statement, reassuring that no sensitive information or data had been accessed in the process. 

Ransomware has been roaming free for the past couple of years with great success. In a recent survey by Sophos, findings show that 51% of organizations were hit by ransomware in the last year. The criminals succeeded in encrypting the data in 73% of these attacks. 

It is widely believed that the attack on Garmin was caused by a new breed of ransomware called WastedLocker. The people responsible behind this customized ransomware is a hacker group known as Evil Corp. 

Now that you have the full picture of the attack, it’s time to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. What does this incident mean for the wearable vertical and how much of this can be avoided in the future?

Wearable Technology Has Another Thing To Worry About – Cyberattacks 

Coined as the next big thing, wearable technology has never managed to truly live up to the hype. As beautiful and trendy the Apple Watch and Garmin watches look, the reality is that we never got true value out of our smartwatches. 

The truth is that the current versions of wearable tech are lesser versions of smartwatches, duplicating tasks and never really offering a USP to justify their price range. The last thing you’d ever want to be added to this underwhelming sense surrounding the industry is security concerns. 

Wearable technology is yet another medium that requires people to relinquish parts of their private lives. Credit card numbers, personal information, measurements, health stats, and a lot more sensitive data are fed into the wearable tech algorithm in order to personalize it. 

What the Garmin event makes quite obvious is that product quality is not the only thing that should concern the industry – the real threat looming over it is security. 

Cyberattacks are always a possibility when you operate in the digital space but what’s very alarming in this specific instance, is the type of attack Garmin was subjected to. Ransomware is one of the most dangerous versions of hacking as it won’t only encrypt personal data, it will ask a hefty ransom in order to release it. 

According to the survey by Sophos, 26% of the companies that were involved in a ransomware attack, caved in and paid the price in order to get their data back. 

The implications of a ransomware attack come to join a long list of worries and drawbacks associated with wearable technology. 

  • Where is all the personal information stored? 
  • Who has access to it?
  • How will it be used?

Where do we go from here? How are these concerns going to be addressed?

What Does The Future Hold For Wearable Security?

The susceptibility of wearable technology to cyberattacks is not a novel idea. What is playing out in front of our very eyes feels more like a self-fulfilling prophecy. It seems that now is the time act. 

The only way to address this is through official legislation. There’s been some steps towards that direction and the signs but the landscape is still unclear. 

Occurrences like the Garmin incident are definitely putting the pressure on authorities to device a more coherent and actionable plan of action. Security could prove to be the downfall of the industry and unless it’s properly addressed, ransomware attacks will become more frequent. 

We’ll keep an eye on the developments and you keep an eye on the Axios blog!