China Warns Its Soldiers: Wearable Tech Could Leak Secrets


Published in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily—a mouthpiece for the military—the warning outlines the risks (link in Chinese) of all devices smart and wearable: watches, fitness trackers, and glasses are all addressed.

“The moment a soldier puts on a device that can record high-definition audio and video, take photos, and process and transmit data, it’s very possible for him or her to be tracked or to reveal military secrets,” says the message, without mentioning any specific products.

What led to this ominous message? The PLA cites a recent case in which an unnamed soldier from Nanjing tried to use a smart watch to take a photo with his comrades. The story may not actually be real: Even the smartest watches don’t usually have cameras, and the quote from the unwitting soldier—”Come on, let me use my new smart watch to take a photo of everyone!”—seems too convenient to be true. But it’s plausible enough for the PLA to make its point about security.

In fact, the PLA and militaries the world over are probably less afraid of intentional acts like photographing and distributing classified information, and more worried about the passive data collection and transmission happening on these devices. The PLA’s warning says that fitness trackers and watches, if compromised, could send data on soldiers’ locations, movements, and even health conditions to whoever has gained access.

The military should be even more afraid if soldiers are using knock-offs that are no doubt less secure than the real thing.

Full article: China Warns Its Soldiers: Wearable Tech Could Leak Secrets (Defense One)

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