Wearable technology, wearables, fashion technology, smartwear, tech togs, skin electronics or fashion electronics are smart electronic devices (electronic device with micro-controllers) that are worn close to and/or on the surface of the skin, where they detect, analyze, and transmit information concerning e.g. body signals such as vital signs, and/or ambient data and which allow in some cases immediate biofeedback to the wearer.
Wearable devices such as activity trackers are an example of the Internet of Things, since “things” such as electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity are effectors that enable objects to exchange data (including data quality) through the internet with a manufacturer, operator, and/or other connected devices, without requiring human intervention.
Wearable technology has a variety of applications that grows as the field itself expands. It appears prominently in consumer electronics with the popularization of the smartwatch and activity tracker. Apart from commercial uses, wearable technology is being incorporated into navigation systems, advanced textiles, and healthcare.
Wearable technology – Apple Watch, Fitbit or Google Glass – has gone mainstream. Businesses that have addressed security issues involving employees’ smart phones and tablets in the workplace now must take a close look at the possible security and privacy issues created by wearable technology in the workplace.
The issues wearables bring to the table are just as relevant to small business owners as they are to CEOs of major companies. This article looks at the potential risks and ways to tackle this complex issue. (The company-sanctioned use of wearables on the factory floor to improve safety and on the sports field to monitor training is worth a separate discussion.)
Wearables comprise four main categories: smart glasses and headgear, smart watches, wearable medical devices and fitness trackers. All of these have one or more features that:
- sense and translate data;
- collect and prepare data for transmission; and/or
- transmit data to off-site storage for processing and reporting.
Wearable technologies include devices that are worn on the body as accessories or implants, reliant on apps for configuration and interfacing, and powered by sensors that gather information from their immediate surroundings for relaying to the cloud for storage and analysis.
Intel’s Sports Group security research manager, Kavya Racharla, and Deep Armor’s founder and CEO, Sumanth Naropanth, explain how typical wearable devices are developed in just six months, from planning to rollout, which could mean not leaving much room for security assessments. Racharla says that some wearables are able to store voice prompts in plain text, that is, if the prompt includes a user’s name, it’s in plain text, too.
Securing wearables and other connected devices
As more manufacturers go to market with devices that come with a wide array of functionalities, excited buyers might not be able to assess the potential hazards to their security. It is the responsibility of manufacturers to incorporate security into their development cycles so that device integrity and user privacy are prioritized. This would entail having risk assessment teams even from the conception phase.
Since wearables can also be operated through smartphone apps, it is important to secure mobile apps and devices, by performing such steps as updating the firmware to the latest version and refraining from using third-party apps.
Businesses both small and large need security policies for wearable technology. It is important to add this issue to employee training. Employees must understand that cyber-crooks armed with signal interceptors can highjack wearables without the owner’s knowledge, and that workplace restrictions on wearables do not mean that individual employees are under suspicion. You will want to devise your own regulations, but consider the following cyber-security recommendations with regard to both wearables and traditional technology.
- Employees wearing smart watches should use the maximum security level available when they sync the watch with their smart phone.
- Encryption must be used every time confidential data (including passwords) are transmitted from wearables to other data sources.
- Businesses should install (and update frequently) the most up-to-date malware detection programs capable of finding threats, regardless of where the problem originates.
- Businesses must protect themselves against industrial espionage by limiting, or prohibiting, smart phone usage and wearables in meetings where sensitive/confidential information is shared, and in research labs where product prototypes may be on display.
As technology continues to evolve, so do the risks and issues involved in its use. Awareness and the inclusion of employees in efforts to limit risk are vital tools in maintaining cyber-security.
Here we leave you with TedX video you must watch, if you are ready to learn more. >>>>>