Wearable Tech World Feature Article
August 05, 2015

Smartwatches Pose Security Risks

Smartwatches are gaining more popularity, especially after the launch of the Apple Watch. As with any Internet-connected device, there are inherent security risks, according to MobileIron.

"As consumers activate smartwatches and pair them with their smartphones, enterprise data can inadvertently be put at risk," said Mike Raggo, director of security research for MobileIron. "Enterprises should take a critical look at their wearable strategy with a lens towards each device."

The company has released a report on smartwatch security, and Raggo is also hosting a webinar on the subject.

These devices have many similar benefits and risks as smartphones and tablets. While enterprise companies have rolled out Mobile Device Management (MDM) software for these devices, especially people using their personal devices under BYOD policies, smartwatches are relatively new.

Since these devices are fashion accessories in addition to computing devices, the personal connections that smartwatches offer over smartphones and tablets might encourage users to be more lax about security. Smartwatches offer access to important data at a literal glance, which will make them more attractive to business users.

And as users mix work and personal data, malicious users might take advantage of this looser control with exploits.

The novelty of smartwatches makes security less well understood for these devices than even for smartphones and tablets. As these devices connect to corporate email and calendar apps, there’s a lot of potential for data breaches.

Even worse, IT administrators might not even identify smartwatches as devices that should be under their control, because they somewhat resemble ordinary watches.

There is hope. Since smartwatches typically have to be paired with smartphones to work, organizations can use the same MDM software for smartwatches as they can for smartphones, though it will likely take some time for the vendors to fully support smartwatches. If existing devices are already protected, that should lessen the risk of a smartwatch breach. As always, the best defense against problems is keeping software up to date, including MDM.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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