Wearable technology security concerns enterprises as popularity grows

By Scott Steinberg

Wearable devices are sweeping the consumer electronics market in 2016 and beyond, making wearable technology security a top consideration for those who want to keep their information safe. Though smartwatches, connected glasses and virtual reality (VR) headsets may seem innocuous enough from a business standpoint, it’s important to remember that many are powerful enough to be classified as portable computers, and many collect a wide range of personal data.

New range of wearables

The following are some current types of cutting-edge technology on the market today and some of the wearable technology security concerns they may present:

  • Smartwatches: software-powered timepieces capable of running apps, connecting to the internet and managing other high-tech functions
  • VR headsets: head-mounted displays that immerse viewers in 3-D computer-generated worlds and other simulated environments
  • Goggles and glasses: wearable lenses that let you record video, tape conversations, snap photos and more
  • Accessories: fashion accouterments such as wristbands and lockets that can double as communications and entertainment devices, letting you see who is calling at a glance or dictate texts on-demand
  • Activity trackers: devices that are capable of monitoring workers’ fitness levels, activity patterns and other health-related information

In the future, an ever-inventive range of devices — including hybrids and other clever combinations such as connected shirts, socks and shoes — will reflect these design sensibilities. However, as common as they’ll soon become and as well as they’re designed to organically integrate into daily life, it’s important to remember that these devices aren’t as innocuous as they seem. Not only will millions of wearable devices soon track your habits, preferences, purchasing information, personal details and day-to-day communications, but they’ll also send that data to a wide range of providers, including third-party app makers, analytics tool operators, online retailers and digital distributors.

Data levels continue to rise

Wearable technology security only becomes more of a concern when you consider how much data will soon be shared to the cloud and the frequency at which it will be shared going forward. This is doubly concerning when you factor in the financial incentive of many parties to pass this information along to marketers, researchers, salespeople and other interested parties. As a result, it’s hard to know for certain whether this information will be secure in the future, how secure it will be and with whom it will be shared. Nonetheless, for those who prize online privacy and data security, a few simple tips can help you stay more secure:

  • Opt out
  • Wherever possible, opt out of sharing data, information and feedback to interested parties.
  • Use alternate accounts Some services, such as online storage solutions, may allow you to register for them using anonymous names or email addresses. Exercise this option where possible. Likewise, you may wish to use different accounts than your primary one with specific apps or services when accessing them through wearable devices.
  • Safeguard sensitive information
  • Any information shared to the cloud, even privately, has the potential to become public. If you’re concerned with it getting out, keep it off the internet, to begin with.
  • Avoid capturing images
  • Do not use wearable devices to capture or store potentially sensitive photos and videos, such as prototypes or work-in-progress developments. Note that it may be inappropriate or unlawful to do so without others’ consent.
  • Think twice
  • Remember that like any high-tech device, wearable gadgets are also vulnerable to technical glitches, viruses, malware, spyware and other common computerized concerns. Safeguard against them and be mindful of sharing data with third parties, especially those who send unexpected or uninvited queries or requests.

On the bright side, wearable technology represents a nascent market with loads of potential that’s currently skyrocketing in popularity and has the potential to transform the fundamental shape of business. The downside? Like any high-tech frontier, it also presents potential concerns in the form of wearable technology security threats and the prospective fallout that can surround them. Countless new wearable devices will soon be available in every size and form that can be utilized to the benefit of your enterprise. However, be careful to exercise caution as you look for ways to integrate them into your IT operations. As they say, an ounce of prevention can far outweigh a pound of cure.

Written By

Scott Steinberg

Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

Award-winning professional speaker, Scott Steinberg, is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation, and the author of Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. Among today’s top-rated international speakers…

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