Wearable devices have only been on the scene for a relatively short time in the mainstream consumer market, but they’ve taken the world by storm, and now they’re making their way onto the enterprise landscape.
Wearable devices have been showing up in the workplace in a variety of different ways. Some big retailers have disseminated wearable health monitors to their employees in an effort to incentivize healthy behavior on and off the clock. Some tech manufacturers have begun creating devices specifically for workplace use, as in the case of augmented reality Wi-Fi-ready glasses. And of course, with smartwatches and other devices appearing as new enablers of networked communication, there’s a good chance that there will be more wearable devices showing up in the workplace that are used for non-work purposes.
The one thing that these different uses of wearables all have in common is that they involve connecting to work networks while in the workplace. So just as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has raised concerns over network security, the Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) model could very well pose its own set of security problems. The following tips will help you determine if your clients are prepared to handle the increase in wearable devices that the workplace is sure to see.
Policies for Usage—Important with WYOD as with BYOD
A big place that enterprises are going to falter when it comes to WYOD is on the level of policy. Devices such as health trackers and smartwatches pose even more of a security blind spot than smartphones and tablets do. We simply don’t think of these devices, in our day-to-day, as being prone to malware exposure. But hackers know that if it has an IP, it has a potential vulnerability. Some security professionals are predicting a renaissance in malware, especially ransomware, targeted specifically at wearable devices. And so, as these security threats move from concept to reality, clients will want to have usage policies in place that prevent malware-infected wearables from accessing workplace networks, just as they do with other mobile devices.
Know What Connects!
As noted above, a big problem that wearables pose in terms of security is one of perception. People don’t see them as potentially carrying malware. But oftentimes consumers don’t even think of them as connecting to networks. Devices such as health trackers, which have no screen or any markings of a traditional computer, don’t scream “secure me” at an IT department. Sometimes the only sign that they’re a connected device at all is the network traffic. Enterprises will need to stay aware of the emerging trends in wearable devices and keep an eye on what their employees are bringing in and out of the office.
Think In-Office Devices for Enterprise Use
Because it’s not clear exactly what roles wearables will play in the workplace of the near future in terms of enabling or enhancing workplace productivity, it’s tough to know how much employees will commute with wearable devices used primarily for work. But at least for one class of devices—augmented reality (AR) glasses—the enterprise applications seem to be far more popular than the home uses. While those particular devices have been thus far unsuccessful in the consumer device market, companies have been retooling them to suit the needs of industry. So it may be in the interest of a client to consider purchasing a suite of AR glasses that they can secure, manage, and keep in the office as work-only tools.
Given the difficulty of securing a device that is used both in and out of the office by an employee, the relative lack of popularity thus far of these types of devices for personal use may be a blessing for enterprise security.
Preparing for a WYOD Future
With wearable technology for home and enterprise use only just now coming into fashion, it’s not easy to know what wearable management platforms will be necessary or what device-specific security protocols will emerge.
But one thing is certain: It’s critical to watch these trends and to keep your clients apprised of the emerging threats, and the emerging security steps to take, as this new wearable wing of the tech world catches on in the workplace.