Wearable Technology – Is It Secure?

Jun 26, 2015 TigerText

By: Sumeet Bhatia; TigerText Chief Technology Officer
Wearable tech is a consumer trend frequently making headlines with the emergence of fitness bands, smartwatches, Google Glass, and even jewelry, but it’s now making its way into the enterprise.

It only makes sense – technology has become an integral part of our lives. Not only can wearable devices act as a natural extension of the smartphones we already use regularly, but they also are designed to provide and collect information in a more accessible way.

And people aren’t just buying the Apple Watch, Google Glass, FitBit and others though, but they’re actually able to afford them too. Google Glass sold out in a few hours after its initial launch in 2014, and the Apple Watch has already sold several million units since its April 2015 debut. According to Gartner, the wearable technology market will be worth $10 billion by next year.

Most of the focus is now on wrist-worn products, but wearable tech will also move to glasses, rings and fabric-embedded products. The whole goal of wearable technology is to enable users to access their messages, email, photos and other items while on the go. Wearable technology’s promise is to be lightweight and slim, but also be easy to use, difficult to lose and something one can fashionably wear.

As time goes on, wearable technology will continue to advance and become smaller, lighter and more powerful. New battery and satellite technology will enable wearables to not only become smaller, but also stay powered longer.

All the benefits of today’s wearable tech and the future promise of tomorrow’s wearable technology provide exciting market potential, but for many in the IT security sector, wearable technology is an area filled with fear and lots of questions.

IT Managers are already reeling with the impact of BYOD, and the thought of millions of small mobile devices communicating via battery-optimized communication technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee – which is not visible by monitoring IP network traffic – is enough to drive many IT managers to brink of insanity.

So what are the security issues with wearable technologies? Many would say that these issues can be divided into two types – hardware issues and software and app-related issues.

Hardware Issues

As already mentioned, many wearable technologies will utilize battery-optimized communication technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee. Not only are these communication technologies hard to see via IP monitoring, but are also hackable.

Many wearable devices, such as FitBit and Apple Watch are meant to be worn all the times, which means one is less likely to lose the device, but also means the hardware has not been designed to prevent hacking if the device is lost or stolen. Additionally, much of the data stored on a lost or stolen wearable device can easily be retrieved. Experienced hackers can access a “Root” feature by attaching wearables to another computer and run certain commands through them, which can then give them access to the user’s information and updates.

Software Issues

Many wearable devices communicate with a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device, and like all other software, is hackable, especially, if the software or app is not set-up for security, or has been compromised by malware or spyware.

Additionally, many wearable devices are set up as “Public” by default. This means that the data on the device is open to public access. To prevent outside access, always ensure this setting is off so your data stays private.

Like any mobile device communicating and sharing data, the software or app doing the sharing can be hacked in various ways. Having secure messaging like TigerText and anti-virus software will help keep your data secure on wearable devices and the mobile devices they are communicating with.

Wearable technology offer some exciting features and user benefits, but like any technology it needs to be set up, used correctly and protected with secure-minded software and apps.

If this topic interests you, please join us on Tuesday, June 30th at 10:00am PDT for our Twitter chat on “Wearable Technology – Is It Secure?” Tweet @TigerText using the hashtag #worksecurechat.