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Feb 18, 2015

Has BYOD Become BYOS (Bring Your Own Stuff)? How to Battle the New Security Risks

Wearable devices and their related apps are beginning to invade enterprises and change the traditional definition of BYOD (bring your own device). A report by ABI Research estimates that the number of wearable device shipments will reach 485 million units by 2018. As a growing number of employees are bringing smart watches, high-tech eyeglasses, and other wearables into the workplace, use of the devices is offering potential gains in employee productivity as well as heightened mobile app security concerns. Researchers at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London found from a control sample that employees who wore three different wearable devices saw an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction. While wearable technologies offer new ways for employees to access and absorb information, the use of these devices in the workplace also raises security concerns, particularly when sensitive proprietary corporate data or customer information is involved. We offer 4 tips and tricks to lower the risks and strengthen security around the use of wearables in the enterprise:

1. Communicate Workplace Wearable Tech Policy.

Administrators should clearly and regularly communicate the company’s policies for using wearable technologies within the corporate firewall as well as in public settings. Many wearable devices are Bluetooth-enabled. As such, it’s possible for wearable technologies to connect to unprotected Bluetooth emitters. Make sure policies are clear regarding Bluetooth access and other potential risks along with best practices for employees to follow.

2. Invest in and test network infrastructure.

Some wearable devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch, have the ability to store and transfer data. Companies should be able to detect if not control and prevent data loss with wearable devices through their network infrastructures. At the very least, network technologies should be able to detect the use of unauthorized wearables.

3. Check the privacy policies for apps being used.

More than half (52%) of the self-tracking apps examined by Symantec lack privacy policies. This may be an indicator of how security is treated in the development and provisioning of online self-tracking services and that the user’s data could be shared with third parties.

4. Use a MAM (mobile app management) solution.

To protect proprietary data and apps that may come in contact with wearable devices, companies can use mobile application management (MAM®). App wrapping is a security solution that automatically wraps fine-grained security policies around individual mobile apps. App wrapping adds multiple layers of security to apps that require more security. This post originally appeared on WIRED Innovation Insights on February 16, 2015.


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