Even as acceptance of personal devices in the workplace soars in the past three-quarters across all businesses, fewer than forty percent have any kind of BYOD policy in place. A lack of policy doesn’t mean that workers aren’t accessing your corporate network via their personal devices. A lack of BYOD policy simply means that your IT department isn’t monitoring or controlling it, putting your systems at serious risk.
When drafting BYOD policies, many companies address devices like cell phones and tablet computers, but often neglect other connectable devices, such as wearable tech. In 2014, 19 million connectable wearable tech products were shipped to consumers worldwide. By the year 2018, this number is expected to escalate to a whopping 119 million. Your BYOD policy needs to address these devices before these products permeate the workplace — as well as your systems and network.
What is Wearable Tech?
Wearable tech is defined as any clothing and/or accessory that features the potential to connect to the Internet or to a network via Internet connection. Wearable tech includes shirts, shoes, watches, glasses, and other wearable apparel and accessories that feature connectivity, but these devices can also capable of recording video and audio, communicating via messaging or voice technologies, and more. These additional features need to be factored into a BYOD policy — such as when, where, and if employees are allowed to record things like private meetings or products in development. If employees are allowed to record, when, where, how, and with whom are they allowed to share? For example, is it okay to tape a meeting, but not to share it via email? Consider all of the capabilities of connected devices when drafting BYOD policies.
The Challenges of Including Wearable Tech in the IT Infrastructure
One of the most impactful changes of including wearable tech in your IT infrastructure is the cost. Most companies are still working on compatibility issues associated with the influx of Android, Apple, BlackBerry, and Windows Phones on their systems. Now they will need to address a whole new set of devices, operating systems, and apps. In many cases, developers will need to produce new versions of the business’ apps in order to enable wearable devices to access the network, collaborate with other workers, or serve the customers.
In addition to the costs associated with wearable tech, IT departments will need to consider issues of compliance. When dealing with sensitive and/or regulated data, some wearable tech might not meet the minimum requirements necessary to comply with regulations.
Just as with other mobile devices, wearable tech and other IoT devices are subject to more loss, theft, breakage, and other issues associated with mobility. IT will need a way to monitor the devices, authenticate users accessing systems via those devices, and wipe data remotely or lock down the wearable tech if the item becomes lost or gets stolen.
Which brings us to our last issue — mobile security threats. Eighty-seven percent of IT managers worry about careless workers and their mobile devices. Wearable tech is no different in this regard than smartphones and tablets. Additionally, the IoT is ripe new territory for hackers and hactivists looking for an easy in. Most wearable tech lacks the stringent security that is inherent in most mobile devices built for corporate use (such as a BlackBerry).
Why Wearable Tech Should be Addressed in All BYOD Policies
Even if the policy is simply to ban the wearing and system access by wearable tech due to mobile security threats, all BYOD policies need to address the issue. Decide what devices will be allowed, what level of access they will be offered, what apps can be installed on the devices, and which workers will be allowed access to systems via wearable tech. Also, determine whether you will empower these devices with apps, or what third-party apps will be allowed to be used. Most of the same issues that affect other mobile devices, like phones, also apply to wearable tech.
Learn more about the latest threats that need to be covered in your BYOD policy when you watch our webinar: How to Add Advanced Threat Detection to Your MDM.