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13 wearable tech trends to watch in 2016

James A. Martin | Jan. 4, 2016
Will Fitbit continue to dominate the activity tracker market in 2016? Will consumers pay for insights based on data their activity trackers collect? Just how secure is that information? Wearable technology experts answer these questions and offer other predictions for the coming year.

7) Hackers will target wearables

As wearable devices become more popular, hackers will target the devices more often, according to Bruce Snell, cybersecurity and privacy director of Intel Security Group. Wearables typically collect a lot of simple data and feed it to mobile applications for processing, he says. Most of the devices use Bluetooth LE technology, "which has suffered a number of well-documented security flaws and likely will produce more with each new version. Poorly written wearable code will create a back door into your smartphone."

Snell predicts some leading wearable devices will be compromised during the next 12 to 18 months "in a way that will provide valuable data for 'spear-phishing' attacks." Using GPS data collected from a running app tied to a fitness tracker, for example, a spear-phisher could "craft an email that you would be more likely to open. If you stop by a coffee shop after your run, using the GPS data an attacker could write an email saying, 'I think you dropped this at the coffee shop this morning,' and include a link to an infected image file." 

Nearly three-quarters of IT professional respondents believe the risk of hackers targeting organizations via IoT devices, such as activity trackers, is medium or high, according to ISACA's IT Risk/Reward Barometer study. In particular, IoT devices are convenient targets for fraudsters who want to use ransomware, according to Christos Dimitriadis, international president of ISACA and group director of information security at Intralot.

In 2016, enterprises "will need to set network policies that can manage access levels for these devices," says Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist at Citrix. "Employees will be wearing multiple devices to gather more data and improve accuracy for things like health tracking — and all will need to be managed accordingly. For industries like healthcare where the devices are constantly uploading and sending data, it will be critical that this information is encrypted and has multi-factor authentication protocols to avoid any funny business from patients or hackers."

8) Athletes will embrace 'smart clothing' 

Fitness wearables will generate more than $10 billion in revenue by 2020, up for $3.3 billion in 2015, according to Juniper Research. The "tripling effect will be largely driven by the sales of wrist-based trackers, while hundreds of thousands of connected garments used by professional sports teams showcase wearable technology's most advanced capabilities," the research firm said in a statement. 

"Already used in training to monitor performance, smart clothing will also become an important part of watching sports in the future, with leagues like the NFL partnering with Microsoft and Zebra Technologies to produce live visualizations of data and new ways for fans to understand each game," according to Juniper.


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