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Securing your wearable devices

Oh Sieng Chye, Malware Researcher, ESET Asia Pacific | Nov. 11, 2015
The single most important step that needs to be taken is consumer education and raising security awareness surrounding the use of wearable devices.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Mobile devices and wearables have spurred profound changes in many industries. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that a total of 45.7 million wearables will be shipped in 2015.

The most disruptive impact has definitely been in fitness and healthcare. By allowing healthcare providers to monitor patients virtually, wearables have the potential to completely transform the healthcare experience. Yet, one of the recurring themes that comes to the surface when talking about wearables is that of security.

Just as smartphones put a cybersecurity risk in nearly each and every person's pocket, wearables might be putting one on our wrists. Wearables are often described as one of the next big cyber threats that both consumers and organisations need to mitigate. In the case of medical wearables there are legitimate concerns that improperly secured devices could jeopardise long-term patient health and safety, if someone with a malicious intent was to gain access to the information stored on these devices.

Exacerbating the BYOD issue
For cyber security professionals and IT managers, wearables have largely exacerbated the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) problem. Still reeling from the impact of the trend, the growth in wearables has added to their workload, making it that much tougher for them to ensure the robustness of their organisation's network.

Earlier this year, in a survey of more than 1,000 employees from 100 organisations in the UK, Accellion found that over half (53 percent) of IT decision makers are yet to consider the possible impact of wearable technology on data security, despite 81 percent acknowledging that increase in wearable devices will pose a security risk.

What's more, less than half (41 percent) believe they currently have a BYOD policy in place that can be extended to wearables, while an alarming 77 percent don't consider wearable technology as part of their broader mobile security strategy.

Consumer awareness remains low
While consumers may be concerned about cyber threats and privacy on their wearable devices, chances are they've only thought about it for a brief moment. The ESET Asia Pacific Cyber-Savviness Report, a survey of 1,800 consumers across six countries recently completed by ESET, showed that threats such as viruses and scams have traditionally been associated with desktops and laptops. Consequently, consumers are generally more vigilant in protecting these devices.

Users are less concerned about the security of their mobile devices, and nearly 50 percent of the respondents felt their PCs and laptops were more likely to be hacked than their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Security risks associated with social media, free applications and software downloads are also not taken seriously, with more than 30 percent of respondents said they weren't concerned about these threats. This misconception highlights a serious gap in cybersecurity awareness in the Asia-Pacific region.


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