How good is wearable security?

How good is wearable security?
September 12, 2016  |  BY

Across the country each morning, millions of people get ready for work. They shower, get dressed, make breakfast, maybe catch up on the news before heading out of the door. Something else is becoming part of that routine: They’re putting on wearables such as fitness trackers and smartwatches.

As these devices have grown more popular, they’re starting to be common in offices. But similar to proliferation of mobile apps, impatience to get wearables to market can create potential security holes.

First of all, wearables aren’t encrypted, and you don’t have a password to protect others from accessing the data. Also, while in transit, wearable data is synced with data in the cloud, a situation that often leaves that data unprotected as well.

Part of the problem originates from the lack of clear regulation. In theory security is the responsibility of the manufacturers, but it’s vague if they’re complying with government regulations or honoring security standards on their own. So if your company’s network gets hacked via a wearable, you might not be able to point the finger at the manufacturer.

What about Mobile Device Management?
Companies that have implemented a mobile device management system have taken a good first step. But while MDM is good to balance employee productivity with adherence to corporate policies, it’s not necessarily a way to address security issues.

This is because wearables present different security issues than smartphones. Rather than looking the other way, or even restricting wearables, companies have to fold wearable usage into existing MDM policies.

Wearables can connect to anything, good or bad
Wearables can connect to other wireless devices like smartphones or tablets. That’s convenient, of course. But they also might inadvertently be connecting to cyberthieves and other malicious players. Although wearable security isn’t a strong as necessary, it’s not all doom and gloom. Organizations may now have thousands of connected devices, so they first have to do an audit on these devices and create a specific security plan.

Modern day spying
Wearables make it easy for employees or others to take photos of confidential information or record audio from meetings. This could happen with smartphones, but the nature of wearables makes this type of activity harder to deter and detect. There’s no easy security answer to any of these vulnerabilities, and it’s only going to become more perplexing as wearables go mainstream.

The good news, however, is that companies once scratched their collective heads to determine how to protect desktops and software. Just the same, companies and security experts will undoubtedly collaborate to develop better policies and protocols to protect their data. The key is for all of us to recognize that wearables are no longer novelties but rather part of the technology ecosystem.