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Guest View: Emerging technologies – The next frontier in a blink of an eye

George Chang, VP, Southeast Asia & Hong Kong, Fortinet | March 19, 2014
While BYOD is still being addressed, 'emerging technologies' are now leaping on to the scene, with the likes of Google Glass and smart watches already on the market and more innovations just around the corner.

At the very heart of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) evolution is the ability to access enterprise networks from anywhere, anytime. The range of tools which enable this constant connectivity are becoming more powerful all the time, with laptops, tablets, smartphones and now emerging technologies such as Google Glass, allowing access to a range of communications and business applications, while cloud computing serves to effectively extend the office to anywhere in the world.

BYOD has grown significantly in the last couple of years, challenging IT departments' ability to secure their data while embracing the technology. The trend was accepted so quickly and so extensively that before firms knew it, vast numbers of staff were using their own devices at work or for work purposes - without really thinking about how it would impact the network or the business as a whole.

However, while BYOD is still being addressed, 'emerging technologies' are now leaping on to the scene, with the likes of Google Glass and smart watches already on the market and more innovations just around the corner. Added to the concerns raised by BYOD, organisations understandably have a strong feeling of trepidation for what lies ahead.

To bring this into context, a recent Fortinet worldwide survey, which was conducted across 20 countries and surveyed 3,200 21-32 year old employees, found that 16 percent of respondents agreed that they would use wearable technologies in work or for work purposes as soon as they become available and 33 percent as soon as their price is affordable. Only 8 percent of the entire sample disagreed that these technologies will become widespread in the workspace. These findings suggest that businesses simply cannot ignore the impact that emerging technologies are going to have.

Educate Users; Embed Security into your Network

Obviously, as with any new technologies that come onto the market and quickly gain popularity, concerns around security implications will never be far behind. For IT managers, the use of emerging technologies will highlight issues similar to those of mobile devices, the most important of which is accessing corporate data. Here, identity management will be a key component of a broader network security solution. Indeed, the use of emerging technologies poses a data confidentiality problem. Devices such as Google Glass, smart watches and smart wigs allow users to record whatever they can see through integrated cameras, leading to potential data protection breaches.

IT managers allowing these technologies to enter the workplace must also take into consideration wireless security. Currently, emerging technologies use either their own WiFi capability to connect to a network or Bluetooth to tether themselves to a tablet or smartphone to access the Internet via a 3G/4G network.  There are several issues to consider; the first is using public, unsecured networks.  As these devices become more widely deployed they will be a target for the cybercriminal community just like today's mobile devices.  These devices have limited processing power and it is unlikely that security capabilities like anti-virus software will ever be available for them. 

 

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