New Tech, New Threat: Wearables Pose Security Challenges

Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt
Posted: 11/22/2017
Smart Watch

The evolution of digital transformation has been going on for decades. It’s grown from computers that took up entire rooms, to desktop equipment, to mobile computers, then on to smartphones and tablets. We now have more computing power in our palms than entire office buildings attained 50 years ago.

Of course with any technological advancement comes the need for new; technology is nothing if not innovative. And that leads to the newest type of computing power: wearable technology.

Wearables are being used in a variety of cases, from healthcare to manufacturing floors and the airline industry. Many are integrating these hardware devices with specialized software components and even taking advantage of the latest in artificial intelligence and even augmented reality.

But with new endpoints come new threats, and a wave of hacker capabilities to undermine the efficacy of this technology. So, how are enterprises securing their new toys? Is it an MDM? Does it need to include additional layers of threat defense? What’s the market like for wearable security?

A forecast created earlier this year shows that not only is the wearable market expanding, but its security protocols are moving with it.

According to Infoholic Research, the market includes security around network, cloud, wireless, and applications, and predictions show it’s about to rise at an incredible rate.

The forecast shows a 51.4% CAGR between 2017 and 2022, with the market value expected to hit $35.7 billion over the next half decade.

“The rise in the enterprise-focused wearable apps has eased workload handling,” the report stated. “However, increased risk of breaches of sensitive data is now witnessed as data can easily be transferred through these devices. Organizations should have security policies in place to ensure data safety. Wearable device security solutions provide a profitable opportunity to modern enterprises to improve their workflow, better resource management, and to improve communications.”

There’s also a growing gap in the policy structure of most enterprises – when one security feature is implemented, be it an MDM, EMM or MTD, policies, stakeholder buy-in, and end-user awareness becomes part of the package. That entire cycle now becomes necessary yet again on the wearable side, creating a potential lag in implementation for security measures while employees are fully embarking on new workflows with the innovative technologies.

See related: Do Wearables Fit In  Your Enterprise?

Having a well-thought out strategy will be the basis for a productive and impactful wearables workforce, as well as the security needed to wrap those devices.

“I think the biggest challenge for enterprises to adopt a wearable culture is getting that first taste,” said ABI Research Principal Analyst Ryan Martin. “And in doing so, the product needs to be ready. Solutions can’t be provided to enterprises in a half-baked way; the ‘first taste’ should be backed up by a product that’s ready to go. There needs to be an attractive time-to-value for an enterprise to consider making this change.”

Now that these devices – glasses, watches, even shoes – are beginning to take hold in the enterprise, it’s best practice for teams to move slowly and specifically. Beginning with a small-scale deployment that doesn’t handle business critical data or information will help companies identify gaps and vulnerabilities, and will be able to build a successful program going forward. 

Jason Koestenblatt
Contributor: Jason Koestenblatt