Security concerns with wearable technology

Security concerns with wearable technology

Wearable technologies are smart electronic devices that are worn or attached to a user. For example, smartwatches can be used to track workouts, check emails, and even pay for groceries. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are sometimes embedded in pets to track their location. In fact, the use of wearable technology is becoming so prevalent that by 2021, analysts predict that more than 559 million units of wearable tech will be purchased, with smartwatches as the most in-demand product.

While wearables present appealing opportunities for businesses to enhance communication, increase efficiency, and improve workflow, they also give rise to security and privacy risks.

1. Easy access to data

When you use wearables, your personal data — biometrics, social security number, and other personal identifiers — are collected and shared with several apps and then stored in a cloud server owned by the manufacturer. Alarmingly, most of these devices lack encryption, user authentication, or even password protection, making it easy for hackers to steal sensitive personal information.

What’s more, the rise in the integration of wearables with other technology such as digital assistants, smart home devices, and even automobiles present more portals from which hackers can steal more data.

2. Unsecured wireless connectivity

Wearable devices are typically connected to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks. For example, despite Bluetooth being designed to be a personal area network (PAN), hackers can still use directional, high-gain antennas to launch their attacks. They can intentionally intercept your device and drain your battery.

3. Lack of regulation or compliance

Currently, relevant regulatory frameworks for the wearable technology industry are still in flux. Not only that, but the United States also does not have a privacy law equivalent to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Instead, the US only has regulations and guides specifically for digital health products.

For example, medical device manufacturers must comply with federal regulations such as the quality system (QS) regulations that require medical device manufacturers to address all risks including cybersecurity. The manufacturers also bear the responsibility for the security as well as the safe and effective performance of medical devices. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), on the other hand, can be applied to device manufacturers who interact with covered entities (healthcare providers, health plan companies, and healthcare clearinghouses.) Another is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Digital Health Innovation Action Plan, which is just a guide that ensures all Americans have timely access to high-quality and effective digital health products that have defenses against cyberthreats.

Unfortunately, most wearables do not fall in the digital health category, hence they are not subject to any regulations or compliance restrictions. So in the event that your wearable device’s manufacturer’s servers are hacked, there is little the government can do and you will have to rely on the manufacturer to keep your data safe.

4. Lack of patches

Wearables run their own operating systems (OS) and applications may have unpatched software flaws because their developers do not have a system for delivering fixes and updates. Without an updated security patch in place, devices become vulnerable to viruses, malware, and ever-present cyberattacks.

Small wearables are especially ill-protected because their compact size means they have small processors so there is less room to integrate proper security measures.

The data collected by wearable technology is more private and detailed, which allows cybercriminals to gain an in-depth understanding of their targets. Protect yourself and your business by having the best possible solutions in place. Partner with Simplified IT Consulting and rest easy knowing your systems are monitored 24/7/365. Give us a call now.


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