IoT + BYOD: Opportunities & Potential Risks posed by Wearables

IoT + BYOD: Opportunities & Potential Risks posed by Wearables

Take a quick glance around your office, and you may quickly note that several of your company’s employees are now sporting wearables, which most often come in the form of fitness trackers. You might even own one!

In 2015, eMarketer projected that, by 2019, two out of five people will use a wearable. And thanks to an abundance of anecdotal evidence, that number checks out.

It seems simple enough, giving people a chance to track their fitness activity, sleep patterns, heart rate and other health-related criteria. Ultimately, though, wearables are set to become more complex as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes an increasing factor of our daily reality.

Wearable Technology

An Important Part of the IoT and BYOD Revolution

Business Insider commented in 2016 that “wearable technology is often touted as one of the greatest applications of IoT.”

As the healthcare industry—including medical technology companies, pharmaceutical organizations, hospitals and insurance companies—continues to find value in tapping into the data that wearables provide on their patients, it is likely that wearables will become more than just a statistic-delivery system for fitness seekers.

It may become complementary to healthcare itself, as long as accuracy increases!

Smartwatches Are Likely to Take Wearable Technology to the Next Level of IoT and BYOD

Smartwatches are set to overtake traditional wearables like fitness trackers that serve a specific set of functions since they perform far more than tracking certain fitness variables.

Smartwatches tally all the same statistics that fitness trackers do, such as steps taken and heart rate; but they do so much more, making it probable that they will become part of the bridge to increased IoT.

Recent iterations of smartwatches bear a much closer resemblance to smartphones than traditional fitness trackers, in terms of functionality. Current smartwatches include mobile apps, a mobile operating system, and Bluetooth capability.

Basically, anything your smartphone can do, your smartwatch can too.

Are You Considering Allowing Wearables to Become Part of Your Office’s BYOD and IoT Program?

Considering the fact that the more advanced wearables can easily function as well as your employees’ smartphones and tablets, they probably seem just as valid as any other mobile device.

Beware, there are some hidden security risks that you may want to keep in mind before diving headlong into inviting everyone to use their smartwatch as their BOYD to perform sensitive business tasks. In a July 2016 Tech Republic post, Dave Palmer from Darktrace stated the following:

Modern businesses are digital hives of connected objects that all too often lack adequate security, providing attractive gateways for cyber attackers. That could be anything from a printer or a thermostat connected to the corporate network, through to a connected coffee machine or iWatch.

Palmer goes on to discuss how these objects are relatively unprotected and vulnerable to new threats like ransomware. Basically, they are prime pickings for cybercriminals and hackers of all stripes.

So, while wearables can become a highly functional and useful part of your office’s IoT connectivity, it still seems somewhat risky to many CTOs, in terms of ensuring the company’s digital security.

What Are the Potential Risks and Considerations Associated with Wearables?

As employees start wearing their smartwatches and other wearables to the office and hopping onto the company’s Wi-Fi network, it is a good time to explore any and all potential risks associated and considerations associated with wearables, particularly when IoT is in play.

  • To Purchase New Software, or Not to Purchase New Software? Just like the earlier version of BYOD—including smartphones, tablets, and laptops—wearables may spur a dizzying number of software and cloud programs to manage them. Prepare yourself for the glut of options.
  • Wearable BYODs May Attach to Emails. Computer World asked attorney Peter Gillespie his thoughts on wearables, and his primary concern revolved around emails. Gillespie is concerned that smartwatches may be allowed to attach to emails, or other internal productivity software, where vital personal and corporate data could be lost, stolen or corrupted.

Additional potential risks with wearables include the possible automatic pairing to nearby devices, the allowance of unlimited login attempts in some cases and the potential for discreet access that may lead to video surveillance to capture sensitive corporate information, according to Network World.

What Can You Do to Minimize Risks to Your Organization While Embracing Wearables?

You do not need to sacrifice all the benefits associated with wearables, BYOD and IoT due to the potential risks.

If your business is considering allowing wearables and smartwatches to become part of your BYOD and IoT environment, you simply need to apply the same strategies to them as you do the rest of your mobile devices.

Consider a few of the following options:

  • Choose the Safest Wearables: Either only allow employees with the most secure wearables to use their device or purchase only the most secure devices for your employees, which currently those that feature an opt-in password, requiring users to enter it each time they put their smartwatch back on their wrist.
  • Develop a Wearable-Specific BYOD Policy: Take all the risks into account and design a BYOD policy to help mitigate those risks. Further, ensure that all employees understand the policy and agree to dutifully abide by it since you are all wading into uncharted territory.
  • Provide Anti-Loss Initiatives: We all know how easy it is to lose a watch. Well, the consequences of losing a wearable could have devastating reverberations for your organization. Work with your executive team to come up with initiatives, such as attaching a tracking device feature to each employee’s wearable.
  • Invest in Mobile Data Management Solutions: In cases where an employee does lose their smartwatch, a mobile data management solution will allow you to remotely clear compromised devices before the sensitive data becomes accessible.

It Comes Down to…

Having a solid base to grow up!

Make each step forward count, BYOD policies come first, IoT policies next, and then everything’s tied together with a strong mobile data management program. With this infrastructure, wearables will be nothing but a great addition to your fleet!

Don’t mind the setbacks, new technologies always carry innovative headaches for the IT office. Mitigate them instead, and benefit from a smart workforce.

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.