The nature of personal tech is that devices such as smartphones, tablets and - yes - smartwatches are vulnerable to theft or hack. If someone access your smartwatch, they could likely access all of your personal data, and in turn empty your bank account. So it is important that you secure your smartwatch. But does that mean you need antivirus? Just how do you secure a wearable device? Let's take a look.
In most cases a smartwatch is mostly an extension of your smartphone. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth or some other wireless tech. This peer-to-peer connectivity should mean that it is more safe than even your smartphone. Or, to put it another way, a hacker would have to hack into your phone to get at your smartwatch (and once they are in your phone they don't need your watch).
Remember that virtually all malware these days exists to make money out of the victim, and thieves always go for the low-hanging fruit. If your watch is harder to hack than your laptop, the laptop will get it. It is the same data, after all.
But that is not to say that you should be complacent. If you can install software on a device, you can install malware. So although it is unlikely anyone can (or will) hack their way on to your wrist with a drive-by attack, you can certainly be tricked into installing a dodgy app or opening up a dodgy link. In reality, however, this isn't the real security threat posed against you and your smartwatch.
Can a smartwatch get a virus? The threat to your Apple Watch
That threat is two-fold, and very real. But not the biggest threat you face every day you transact online.
Because despite what antivirus makers will tell you, there isn't really a direct malware threat aimed at your Android smartphone - never mind your iPhone, or their respective watch appendages. Smartwatches are a tiny nascent market. Yes, where there is data and transation there is a potential threat, but there are many more easy ways of stealing your data than installing malware on your smartwatch.
The principal two of those threats: hardware theft and your behaviour.
Simply, if you are walking the streets waving around an Apple Watch that set you back £400, you are vulnerable to personal theft. It shouldn't happen, but we all know that it does (the iPhone is the most stolen phone there is, principally because it is perceived as desirable and so has resale value).
I'm not about to tell you not to wear your watch, nor to be scared as you walk the mean streets. But it does make sense to be discreet when required. And as with a smartphone, the ability to block and track your smartwatch if it is stole, is a most important safeguard. Personal security via a password, fingerprint or passcode is valuable, too. Even if someone nicks your watch, they can't access your data. (If you can remotely track- and brick it, so much the better.) (See also: How to use an Apple Watch: The complete guide.)
Can a smartwatch get a virus? The argument for security software
And that is where the other threat vector can be found. As described above, it is very difficult for someone to infect your smartwatch via a driveby attack. But if you can be persauded to give up your details via a phishing attack they don't need to. So as on the streets, in your virtual life. Behave sensibly, and think before you share, click or download.
This is the only area in which I would argue security software can be helpful for your smartwatch. With the best security packages you can protect your most sensitive data by placing it under a digital lock and key, and by changing a password negate most of the damage wrought by some kind of hack attack.
But in general you really don't need security software for any wearable. Just a sensible attitude, and a healthy disregard for your own intelligence. (See also: Best Apple Watch charging stands: iWatch chargers, docking stations.)