Same old security problems as UK firms await wearable tech invasion

A new report from Trend Micro reveals an IT appetite for wearable devices in the workplace - but an alarming lack of controls to guard against privacy and security threats.

Same old security problems as UK firms await wearable tech invasion
Same old security problems as UK firms await wearable tech invasion

In its 'Walking into Wearable Threats' report, which gathered the views of 100 senior IT decision makers from the UK, the software security firm surprisingly found that 69 percent of these already allow staff to bring wearables to work with 91 percent expecting the number of employees doing this to increase over the next year.

[It is worth noting, however, that it is not clear if smartphones were categorised as wearable devices. Both Apple's iPhone and many Android smartphones have fitness-tracking applications, while Samsung's Galaxy S5 uses its biometric fingerprint sensor with a paired mobile application so it can be used to monitor heart rate and the user's diet.]

Approximately 61 percent said that their organisation actively encourages the use of wearables while a quarter say that their firm is in the process of rolling them out or already using them. Smartwatches such as the LG G Watch, Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live remain the most popular choice (65 percent) followed by activity trackers like FitBit and Jawbone.

Interestingly, most businesses seem intent in fitting wearables under their existing BYOD programmes and policies, while more than a quarter of firms say that they are implementing wearables (or plan to do so) as part of a business insurance programme.

Cloud service company Appirio is a good example of this, with SVP Tim Medforth yesterday detailing how the firm has deployed CloudFit, a voluntary wearable device programme, which sees new starters given FitBits to monitor their health. Medforth says that the move has improved health, business engagement (the firm's CEO shares his data publicly) and even health insurance premiums in the US.

However, despite the benefits, the surveyed IT managers also recognised the notable security risks that come with wearable devices. 85 percent said that they were aware wearable devices carried security risks, such as data theft (as cited by 47 percent) and auto-syncing corporate data (34 percent). Despite this, almost two thirds (64 percent) say they are not concerned with the proliferation of devices in the workplace.

Furthermore, 76 percent allow staff to access corporate data on personal mobiles and nearly one in ten (nine percent) say they have no security protocols or guidelines for personal devices connecting to corporate data.

Fortunately most of the respondents believe that security management will have to be tweaked to accommodate the new devices. Approximately 82 percent reckon BYOD policies will have to change and 50 percent think there is a need to put limitations on the data captured. Some 43 percent stress that security policies must become more stringent while an optimistic 73 percent think that organisations will need to draft an independent wearable device policy.

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