Apple Watches banned from government meetings because they could be hacked by Russian spies

UK ministers have been banned from wearing Apple Watches and other smartwatches during cabinet meetings, reportedly due to fears that the devices could be hacked to become listening devices for spies.

Apple Watches banned from government meetings because they could be hacked by Russian spies

According to The Telegraph, the decision to bar smartwatches from meetings stems from a particular concern about Russian intelligence remotely hijacking the wearbles. One source told the paper: “The Russians are trying to hack everything.”

Alphr understands that the decision to ban smartwatches is not a recent one, and that Apple Watches have not been the focus of particular attention. A source close to Apple has confirmed that Apple Watches have been part of an all device ban on smartwatches in cabinet meetings.

The news follows an announcement last week by the US government, which pinned official blame on Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee. “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorised these activities,” the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement at the time.

Russian hackers, in this case thought to be unconnected to the country’s government, have also been responsible for the leaking of Olympic athlete medical information.

The smartwatch ban is not without precedent. Mobile phones have also been barred from cabinet meetings in the UK, due to similar concerns about their potential to be used as covert listening devices.

A decision to ban smartwatches from Australian government meetings has also been

revealed today. Speaking to Fairfax Media, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s special adviser on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, said care needed to be taken to exclude all devices that can be connected to the internet.

“In a world in which it is necessary for government to have conversations that truly have no electronics in the room, there are going to be more and more items that will have to be locked away in cabinets,” he said.

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