It remains to be seen if the smartwatch will catch on among the masses as the smartphone and tablet have in the past few years. Regardless of its success, however, the smartwatch will pose some security issues in the workplace for IT professionals. Adding to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon, which has introduced external connected devices into work environments, smartwatches necessitate that IT departments be able to see and manage devices that enter a workplace. Visibility will allow enterprises to set policies and authorizations related to use, thereby reinforcing the security of the company databases accessed by employees.
IHS Technology has predicted that by 2020 the smartwatch market will grow from 3.6 million in 2014 to a 101 million. While many wonder what added value a smartwatch has for most consumers who already have a smartphone, the answer is apps. For example, they facilitate mobile payments that can be accessed from your wrist; hands-free video chat for people on the go; child monitoring features that allow parents to check a child’s location or even their vital signs; public transportation access that allows users to simply scan their wrist as they pass through the turnstile; and identification and authentication for businesses.
Despite their potential, however, a recent Hewlett-Packard Smartwatch Security Study, which analyzed the top ten devices on the market, revealed that every single one had security vulnerabilities, including insufficient authentication, encryption and privacy. Additionally, HP found that smartwatches pose a risk to security and privacy since they gather personal identifiable data, which combined with lax security, threatens consumer safety.
So how will security parameters within organizations have to change if smartwatches become standard business devices?
Although the expectation is that the use of smartwatches will soon become wide-spread, the technology is still relatively new and built-in security is very limited, which is a security risk for companies. Therefore, it is vital that enterprises institute mobile policies that include wearable device permissions, acceptable use and best practices. Given their capacity to become truly important business accessories, it is essential that IT professionals have heightened visibility into smartwatches and other BYOD technologies.
Security appliances, like Savvius Vigil, which are capable of storing months of information, can aid security professionals when it comes to monitoring BYOD. Packets related to possible breaches can be examined weeks or even months after an incident occurs, which allows for a complete understanding of the threat. Because the lag between a breach and its detection is often prolonged, it is crucial that IT staff be able to bridge that gap and examine an issue thoroughly in order to make the use of smartwatches and other BYOD technology a non-issue in the workplace.