Clever trick will safeguard Apple Watch from thieves


A special sensor on the back uses infrared, visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate. Photo: Robert Baldwin/The Next Web
A special sensor on the back of the Apple Watch uses infrared, visible-light LEDs and photodiodes to detect your heart rate. Photo: Robert Baldwin/The Next Web

CUPERTINO, Calif. — One of the big questions about the Apple Watch is how Apple will prevent thieves from ripping it off your wrist and using it to clear your bank account.

Because the Apple Watch is connected to Apple Pay — making purchases as easy as a quick swipe — what’s to stop miscreants from abusing it?

The answer wasn’t addressed at Tuesday’s unveiling, but an Apple staffer at the hands-on demo told me how the watch will be protected against fraud.

Thanks to sensors on the Apple Watch’s back, the device can tell when it’s being worn and when it has been taken off. When you first put the watch on, you must enter a code. When the watch is removed from your wrist, the watch locks itself and can’t be used for payments unless the code is entered again.

Pretty simple right? Unless the thief chops your arm off, of course, but that’s a different story.

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26 responses to “Clever trick will safeguard Apple Watch from thieves”

  1. Gamzhtod says:

    Isn’t there some way that biometric data could be used to tie the watch exclusively to its owner? As we have seen recently, codes, aka passwords, are all too easily hacked.

    • Nathanael says:

      You ever heard of the Nymi?

    • Dan Gee says:

      Needs a DNA sequencer too, that would be l33t! :-P

    • T_Will says:

      I’m guessing it’s a one-time use random code that your iPhone instructs you to enter on the watch to pair it. The next time you take it off and put it back on it requests a different random code.

      I had a similar thought though, could they do a Touch ID type sensor to map the veins or something on your wrist that can be used as a biometric identifier?

  2. Hildebrand says:

    I guess you will be able to prevent the device from being used at all unless the code is entered.

  3. testaburger says:

    Thief chops off arm, Apple sends you notifications that you need to move more.

  4. Shawn says:

    Arm chopped off = no more heartbeat. Still secure.

  5. aardman says:

    Well, if your wrist continues pulsing even after it’s been chopped off, then sure an axe will be required for would-be Pay fraudsters.

  6. Jonny says:

    I understood that the watch has to be connected with your phone to make payments – so an arm chopped off still wouldn’t do it.

    • Guest says:

      I would imagine if someone had the balls to chop your arm off, they would have no problem taking your phone out of your lifeless body.

      • unsean says:

        I also suspect that anyone who’s willing hack your body to pieces isn’t terribly interested in either your Apple Watch or your iPhone (though your bank account is another matter) because if they were to apply all that effort to a more non-choppy pursuit they could have an Apple Watch and an iPhone of their own..

  7. adam says:

    people didn’t find it hard to hack Iphones though did they

  8. tjwolf says:

    “…unless the code is entered again…” – are you telling me that not only do I have to take off the watch every night because it needs charging, but I have to also enter a code every morning after I put it on? That’s it – after hearing that the “sport” edition can’t even be worn in the pool, the nightly charging, and now this code! If true, I’m not getting this watch. What a bummer!

    • tjwolf has no logic says:

      Don’t you already have to enter a passcode EVERY time you unlock your phone……
      What’s entering a code once a day gonna do that’s not worth saving your personal info and bank accounts. Please….

      • tjwolf says:

        Uh, actually, no – I don’t . You’ve heard of TouchId, right? Seems my absent logic is only exceeded by your ignorance.

  9. baf2099 says:

    I still see this as a major shortcoming, the phone will allow me to protect EACH transaction via Touch ID, but the watch will essentially just give my money away, there must be more to it than that, I could easily see ways of circumventing the removed from a wrist detection…

  10. GaryNY says:

    Hacking passwords… Hacking off arms… You have to be adept at code breaking, as well as the use of an axe, to get someone’s mobile payments to work with a stolen Watch.

  11. max says:

    I can just imagine someone at Walmart trying to pay using the watch attached to a severed arm they brought in a plastic bag. No problem, have a nice day sir….

  12. James G says:

    If the arm is chopped off, there won’t be a pulse or other data the sensors would need to indicate it’s being worn.

  13. jbelkin says:

    Apparently the writer does not realize that chopping off your arm cuts ff your blood flow.

  14. williambaranowski says:

    “In other news, 27 arms were found today in a trash dump behind a convenience store…”

  15. Raymond_in_DC says:

    OK, now imagine this scenario: You’re mugged, and the mugger demands your money… and your watch… and your code.

  16. TheWild Webster says:

    Typical of those who would stand in line for iCrap. Because typing in a code everytime you make a purchase (as opposed to say, pulling out your billfold, pulling out your credit card, swiping it, punching in a pin or signing, showing id, etc.) would be inconvenient.

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