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By Rick Delgado
Thu | Apr 13, 2017 | 6:03 AM PDT

Wearables have leapt from a rich man’s toy to an everyday commodity, with more unusual and fantastic designs coming out every day. Now, they’re here to help in the workplace.

Businesses are struggling with the idea of employee wearables being integrated as a normal process. There’s huge potential for efficiency and productivity boosts—but the risks are substantial as well. Before you take your wearable to work, or allow your employees to, here are the serious threats to consider.

Wearables are more easily stolen

By letting your employees access business information and data through their wearables, they have the opportunity to better collaborate with teams and complete work more efficiently. They’re not just working with their laptop—they’re boosting productivity with their glasses, watches, and even shoes. Sounds pretty nice, right? Unfortunately, once all of this data is on a smartwatch, it’s open for theft. They accidentally forget it at the gym, a stranger picks it up, and, since wearables are new and therefore have fewer identity verification processes, this stranger has access to hordes of company data. Unlike a laptop or tablet, which is larger and more obviously stolen when a strange picks it up, any old pickpocket can slip a watch off your wrist or pocket it smoothly when no one’s looking—putting your company at risk from every angle.

Wearables make it easier to spy and leak information

Wearables have the ability to record conversations and take pictures, which is nothing new thanks to our smartphones. However, wearables can do so on an undetected level like no other device, and in some cases, without the user’s knowledge. Once you open up your iPhone, it’s easy to see that it’s recording audio, and put it to a stop. Since most wearables lack screens, this is not the case. For employees with less pure intentions, it’s a perfect opportunity to record sensitive meetings or take pictures of confidential projects before they’re slated for release—unbeknownst to everyone around them. If you thought information leaks were dangerous in the past, letting employees bring their wearables to and for work will take it to the next level.  

Wearables can’t be encrypted as efficiently, if at all

BYOD has been an excellent addition to the workforce, so employees can feel comfortable with their own devices and businesses can cut down on the cost of equipment. The next step of this trend has been Bring Your Own Application, where you can work through your own applications versus using those specified by the company. While laptops and smartphones have experienced the same downsides of BYOA as wearables will, wearables are unique in one fashion: they’re newer. Therefore their applications are newer – less safeguarded and easier to break into by hackers, especially compared to converged storage solutions. The data you send and receive through your wearable will be more vulnerable than ever, putting you on the meat market for a curious black or grey hat hacker.

An employee problem: Your privacy is at risk

Wearable technology allows businesses to be better interconnected, keeping progress reports on one another and boosting productivity through collaboration. There are plenty of pros to be found, but for employees, linking your wearable to your job could be a downside. “I’m stuck in traffic” has been a lifesaving excuse for employees late to work due to sleeping through their alarm. What if your employer could pop over, view your GPS location, and call your bluff? You want live reports on where you are, what you’re doing, and how you’re doing them, but if you make your wearable tech your work tech, your boss can access this too. Now you’ve melded your personal life with your professional life—a bad decision all around. Unless you’re going to buy two wearables with every purchase, one for work and one for home, bringing your wearable to work is going to pose a problem for business and pleasure.   

Wearables have their advantages in the workplace, but also dangers serious enough to make businesses and employees reconsider the idea. Until they can be developed enough to rule out these downsides, it’s better to err on the side of caution. BYOD, but leave the smartwatch at home.

Tags: IoT Security,