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How to Design a Wearable Technology Policy for Businesses

February 16, 2017

Everybody knows that the use of mobile devices in the workplace has skyrocketed from where it was five, or even three, years ago. And while clients may just now be wrapping their minds around the best way to manage the devices their employees bring into and use in the workplace through a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) platform, developments in the tech world are already introducing new challenges into the device-management mix. Wearable devices have caught on like wildfire in people’s private lives, and they are now making their way into the office environment—and onto business-owned networks—attached to the clothing, wrists, and heads of employees.

Wearable technology, like more traditional mobile devices, can serve many functions in the workplace—good and bad. Wearable devices can be valuable tools, harmless distractions, or time burners. They can help people get their jobs done or open up networks to malware (yes, wearable malware may be catching on). But one thing is certain: Having an effective policy in place for wearable technology usage will play a critical role in securing workplace networks from the potential cybersecurity threats that will no doubt proliferate around them as they become more popular.

The following tips will get you thinking about the right steps to take when helping your client design a usage policy for wearable technology.

Remember: Anything Networked Can Be a Vulnerability

One of the big ways that wearable technology differs from traditional mobile devices is that many wearables don’t look like the types of devices that would connect to the Internet. But regardless of their lack of touch screens and keyboards, fitness trackers and other devices require networks in order to operate. As hackers grow more aware of the ways that wearables can provide a backdoor into enterprise networks, the threat of wearable malware is sure to grow.

So a wearable-technology usage policy, like a mobile-device usage policy, must take into account employees bringing non-work devices into the office and connecting to business networks. A policy that treats wearable technology as seriously as mobile devices is a policy that may prevent a malware attack somewhere down the line.

Consider How Wearable Devices Use, Store, and Transmit Data

Some potential professional uses of wearable devices could require policies that govern when it’s all right for employees to have them turned on or off, for purposes of data security. For instance, if augmented reality glasses become the cornerstone of industry that some hope, those devices could store audio and visual data, which would pose unique security concerns.

For such wearable devices, companies will need to have policies in order to make sure data are not captured or stored inappropriately. A policy may, for instance, make the use of augmented reality glasses off limits when employees are discussing trade secrets, carrying out sensitive conversations, or discussing confidential information with customers, for the protection of both businesses and employees.

Recognize That New Uses Will Mean New Policy Needs

The ways that wearable technology will be used in the workplace is really only just coming into focus. Maybe smartwatches will become the go-to tool for interfacing with a unified communications product in order to stream audio-visual presentations. Maybe the trend of handing out health trackers to employees for friendly intra-office competitions and health incentives will turn into table-stakes for enterprise management. But whatever new devices come into vogue, making sure your client is aware of their potential uses, and potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities, will be key to maintaining a secure enterprise.

What policies do you think will be most important to managing wearable technology at the enterprise level?