29 Jan 2015

Security and the wearable; why businesses should be alert

Wearables will hit the mainstream market in 2015 as the dominant hardware manufacturers; such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others start producing watches and other similar devices.

These devices will also prove helpful to the enterprise, by helping people to be more mobile and enable even greater levels of communication. But as with the smart phone and tablet, these consumer devices in the enterprise will also create security risks.

The most obvious security challenge with wearables is the same as with all devices – human error. There will be a lack of understanding on the security risks that come with wearable technology, and this will lead people to accidently leak information just through conventional use of their devices. By nature wearables are small devices, too, and this opens up any number of opportunities for them to be misplaced or stolen.

Further, wearables are designed specifically to share information from other devices. From message data filtered through the phone to finance apps such as what will be present in Apple Pay, and then location services that most wearables make use of, wearable technology is at its very core a device to share information with a wide range of other devices and technologies, and that will make them relatively easy to access at a very deep level for hackers.

Most critically of all, however, is the simple reality that enterprises are not prepared for wearable technology in any form. We saw this happen when smart phones and then tablets were new technology – it was only after the data breaches started that enterprises started to consider how to either limit what the devices could access, or find a way to secure their use. It seems likely that the same will happen with wearables – it is only after the high profile breaches begin that IT teams will be tasked with working out how to limit the risk they expose the organisation to.

As IT teams discovered with the smart phones, it is impossible to prevent the demand for personal devices in the work place. The challenge is how to enable their use in the workplace in a secure manner, and managing wearables in the workplace should be high on the list of priorities for IT teams in 2015.