Got a free smartwatch in the mail? Don’t turn it on!

Got a free smartwatch in the mail?  Don't turn it on!

These unsolicited devices may be free, but they are packed with malware.

(Credit: Unsplash/Klim Musalimov)

Members of the US military who receive unsolicited smartwatches in the mail are urged not to turn them on.

As DefenseNews(Opens in a new window) reports, an announcement(Opens in a new window) released June 15 by the Department of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) confirms that some service members are “receiving unsolicited smartwatches by mail”. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that these seemingly free giveaways are malicious.

Army CID found that turning on one of these smartwatches causes it to automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks, attempt to connect to smartphones, and possibly contain malware designed to collect personal and sensitive information, as well as access cameras in your device.

On top of that, they are used for “Brushing” which is a deceptive technique used to boost seller ratings by using fake orders.

It is currently unknown who is distributing the malicious smartwatches and Army CID did not share numbers on how many have been received. Any member of the military who receives one should report it to their local counterintelligence or security manager. Alternatively, there is a dedicated Army CID portal (Opens in a new window) for reporting a crime that can be used.

Hiding malware inside a smartwatch is a relatively new idea, unlike malware on USB sticks, which has been a problem for years. Earlier this week, China-related malware infected and spread via USB sticks, and even the apps we use aren’t always safe. Last month we learned that a previously safe Android screen recording app was updated with malicious features that turned it into spyware.

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