Why Wearables May be a CIOs New Nightmare

Posted on January 09, 2015

It's hardly news to CIOs and other IT professionals that smartphones are an integral part of everyday life for most working adults. But it was still a bit of a shock when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stood up at the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos to cite research that the average person now checks their smartphone a staggering 150 times a day.

The Ins and Outs of Wearable Devices](http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/internet-of-everything/are-you-ready-for-wearable-devices)

Shortly thereafter, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff showed the FitBit device he said had helped him lose 30 pounds, and noted that "I lost 30 pounds wearing the Fitbit; I do 10,000 steps a day. But here's the amazing thing: Last week I got a call from Michael Dell. He asked if I'm feeling okay. "Why?" I asked him. "I'm worried about you," he said, "because I'm your friend on the Fitbit network and noticed you hadn't worked out in the last 3 days and wanted to make sure you're okay," said Benioff.

Benioff reflected on what this kind of public display of health behaviors is going to mean, both for those who opt in to being social about their stats and those who may not be aware of how much is being shared. "Here I am a public company CEO and people know if I have a cold. People are maybe going to know my heart rate, glucose level. The personal enlightenment you get from this technology today is so awesome but what does it mean when everyone knows everything" That call from Michael changed my view."

All kinds of wearable technology " from smartwatches to fitness monitors to smart glasses -- are making their way into the enterprise. "You might not think that something like a fitness monitor could become an entry point for data thieves or hackers, but that's what CIO's once thought about printers and other connected peripherals," points out Jared Hansen, CEO of secure mobile printing leader Breezy.

Security vendor Trend Micro told Enterprise Apps Tech that 61 out of 100 employers it surveyed were actively encouraging employers to use wearable technology in the workplace. Meanwhile, ISACA, the IT governance and security trade association, said that for now, the risk of wearables in the enterprise outweighs their benefits. In the ISACA survey, the numbers are clear:

In a U.K. survey conducted by Trend Micro, 85% of CIO's and IT leaders said that wearables present IT security risks, with the two most feared being data theft and automatic syncing of company data. Still, as of November 2014, two-thirds (64%) said that the number of wearables used at work was still small enough that they were not yet concerned about data security.

And that's the real reason, Hansen says, that wearables are starting to figure in CIO nightmares. "Whenever a new device becomes part of the workplace network, it presents a security risk. It's inevitable that wearables will connect to corporate data, just like other smart devices. So now is the time for organizations to look at the devices that connect to their data, and how people use them, and plan the strategies that will address the security issues that are sure to follow," the Breezy founder says.

New Security Risks?

In January 2014, wearable computing hogged the spotlight at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, and that trend is continuing this week at the 2015 show. Last year, the focus was on single or dual purpose wearable devices, and analysts warned that wearables were creating a new class of security and privacy risks' but this year, the focus is on "do-it-all" wearable devices.

Forrester surveyed thousands of US consumers in March 2014 and found that a majority of people want a wearable for their wrist, like a do-it-all Apple Watch. But demand is still growing for specialized devices, like jewelry, clip-on devices and embedded sensors for shirts and shoes. In 2015, industry researcher Gartner expects shipments of smart clothing to jump from 100,000 units to more than 10 million, notching almost a third of the total expected global sales of smartwatches.

"When smartphones and tablets began to make their way into the enterprise, it was clearly a consumer-driven phenomena," Hansen says. "Many IT organizations struggled to catch up to employee behavior, and there were many costly missteps along the way."

Hansen says that CIO's can apply the lessons learned from the way IT handled the way consumer-driven mobile technology to the next wave of wearable technology. "Focus on wearable apps that have security built in from the beginning. Mobile and BYOD expanded faster than anyone thought, and security was often an afterthought. We still find large companies that haven't developed workable strategies for security company data and documents in transit to printers or at rest on mobile devices " as people begin to access company data from wearables, that problem is going to be compounded," he adds.

For more information on mobile device security and secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook, or click here to schedule a Breezy demo now.

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