Data Security 04-07-2016

Security Concerns in IoT Wearables

Sara Drury

The numbers of IoT Wearables used around the world are growing exponentially. By 2020, an expected 600 million wearable devices will be online globally, a steep climb from last year’s numbers recorded at 87 million. These devices, a subset within a greater collection of gadgets that make up the Internet of Things, include wearables such as watches, t-shirts, or sunglasses, and the creative options are only expanding. But as Teena Maddox with Tech Republic says, “the seductive lure of [IoT wearables] make it easy to forget, or ignore, the inherent security and privacy risks involved.” As with any device in the IoT, wearables have fundamental challenges, beginning with security.

IoT Wearables and Security

Wearable devices connect directly to the internet all on their own, storing personal data right in the cloud. The biggest security risk is unauthorized exposure of personally identifiable information associated with these devices, they are the endpoints that hackers look for because they act as the criminal’s entry point into the devices reliant server. As more and more devices hit the market, the opportunity for breach is far from scarce especially because of Shodan, the IoT’s very own search engine. With tools like these, anyone’s data is at risk if it is not properly secured. Cyber-criminals will also use tools like the cloud, Bluetooth, public WiFi networks, location services, company websites, etc. to break into confidential consumer information. With so many possibilities, security and privacy must be a priority from the beginning stages of IoT wearables development.

Some Considerations

IT departments are met with an array of security challenges as IoT wearables make their way into corporate networks. Wearables are designed to be small and portable, and as security pro Jeff Jenkins told Tech Pro Research, “You have to make sure you’re thinking security first and you’re thinking about the information that’s being generated by [these wearables]. You have situations where it’s no longer just personal data that may be exposed or compromised, but also potentially operational data that could be sensitive in nature.”

Here are four things to consider when purchasing an IoT wearable device:

  • Before buying a wearable device or installing a wearable app, google its name together with the word “hack,” and also with “fraud” or “scam.” This search should reveal any published problems and enable a better informed purchasing decision.
  • Set up wearable devices and any associated online accounts with obscure user names and unique passwords, all of which should be hard to guess.
  • Read the privacy policies associated with wearable devices and apps, looking closely at privacy assurances. Has security been made a priority in the development of this device?
  • Be prepared not to use certain features or apps if the provider has not made security a priority; this lack of security could potentially expose your sensitive information.

These considerations will help identify and educate users about the security pitfalls in their IoT wearables that hackers could use to divulge confidential information. Wearable devices are a promising development in the tech industry, but just like any device in the IoT, security must be made a priority.


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