Skip to main content

Garmin's watches just went down at the worst possible time for me

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin, I know it wasn't your choice, but your system was attacked and shuttered for maintenance at the worst possible time. 

Just as a sweeping ransomware attack immobilized the GPS company's aviation services, mobile apps and select production lines on Wednesday, I lost one of its connected golf watches. 

Well, I didn't lose it myself. My dad did. But because I'm my household's designated tech-support specialist, the attempt to recover a sports watch — forgotten on the hood of a Nissan Titan and flung somewhere on the road between my driveway and a golf course 10 miles away — became my responsibility. 

Sorry to throw you under the bus if you're reading this, pops. 

My father and I both recognized that finding the missing watch would be an improbable accomplishment. I love my dad, though, so I had to try. 

After formulating a mental list of possible routes to take, as one of Garmin's GPS devices might, checking the time and location of the watch's last sync seemed like my best chance.

But when I opened the Garmin Connect app, which lets Garmin fitness-tracker and sport-watch users sync their activity and manage their health metrics, I was met with a system-maintenance message. 

I assumed that maintenance was a common-though-ill-timed occurrence, so I pivoted to my default for any problem: customer service. But customer service was down, too.

My dad and I resorted to retracing his path to the links by foot and car. It was another futile attempt, but we had run out of options. He accepted that the watch was gone, but I reckoned I'd try again this morning to get on Garmin Connect. 

Again, the website showed the maintenance message. As a part of my morning news sweep, I learned from ZDNet that the outage was not routine but instead the result of a ransomware attack that took down Garmin's internal network.

Garmin down for multi-day maintenance

Garmin has not officially confirmed the cause of the system shutdown, but ZDNet saw that several Garmin employees mentioned a ransomware attack on social media. 

ZDNet also reports that that iThome, a Taiwanese news site, published an internal memo sent from Garmin IT to Taiwanese factories. The memo said the company is looking at two days of maintenance. 

It's unclear whether Garmin's entire catalog of services will be disabled for the next two days, or if the multi-day maintenance outage applies only to its overseas factories. As of this morning, the Garmin Connect app is still down.

If you use one of Garmin's sports watches or fitness trackers, it seems you'll have to hang tight for the time being. Your wearables will still keep tabs on your activity, but you won't be able to sync your metrics or change certain settings until the app is back online. 

It seems the GPS in Garmin watches should work in the interim as well, but again, you won't be able to sync with the app. If I could, I might be able to see when the last time my dad's golf watch was in range in of his phone.