The importance of wearables is on the rise but this brings with it new security and privacy risks writes DA Systems David Upton…
A report recently issued by PWC suggested that wearables adoption will mirror the phenomenal rise of tablets in the enterprise. Apparently a fifth of American adults already own a wearable tech device and additional sales could top 130 million units in 2018*. Enterprise vendors are watching these predictions carefully and starting to anticipate their arrival into the workplace with dedicated platforms, such as Salesforce1.
Customer service benefits aside, wearables also support hands-free working, which means productivity and efficiency levels can be further improved
But while the benefits of enterprise wearables are well documented, privacy and security remain the chief apprehensions among consumers. In PWC’s survey, 82 percent of respondents said they feared “wearable technology would invade their privacy” and 86 percent said they thought wearables would make them more vulnerable to security breaches. Privacy and security are serious threats that IT departments need to control carefully if wearables are to make the impact analysts are predicting in the enterprise space.
Below are five key threats to be aware of when considering how wearables might impact a sameday delivery business:
A big part of the attractiveness of wearable devices comes from the ability to process and exchange data in real-time. Herein lies the security risk, because if they are stolen or intercepted, personal data could be compromised. The US National Security Agency highlighted this potential problem at a recent conference. Using enterprise-grade encryption to both protect data from eavesdropping and verify the identity of any connected device would be good first steps to prevent wireless attacks. Features like an automatic wipe will also help and reduce the attractiveness of stolen devices.
One of the other issues with wearables is that it is relatively straightforward for someone to ‘password surf’, seeing a PIN or password on screen and then use the information to hack into the device once it is stolen. It’s not a new problem but one that needs to be overcome if companies want to protect their workers’ digital identities and not risk security breaches due to stolen customer information. Biometric passwords could provide the answer to protecting a user’s identity, by ensuring a device is rendered useless if stolen.
Wearable device management:
Mobile device management is already an essential part of managing the technology used by a mobile workforce and the same will be true of wearables. These will add an additional layer of complexity to what is already a very complicated aspect of IT security management. Already many MDM software vendors are re-naming their applications Enterprise Mobility Management to signify their ability to cope with the greater complexity. Clear policies need to be established and enforced to define expectations around what employees can and can’t do using wearable devices, balancing the need for flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements.
The viability of BYOD
Linked to the previous point, organisations introducing wearables need to consider very carefully whether
Including wearables into a BYOD policy adds a whole new dimension to the level of device management required
Since wearables are able to continuously monitor employee behaviours and track their activity levels and whereabouts at all times, this creates an obvious employee privacy issue. Clearly, there are pros and cons to this issue. On the one hand, being able to monitor productivity levels is useful for KPI management and not too far removed from what companies are already using – for example; tracking on mobiles to monitor delivery drop speeds of individual drivers. Employees are accustomed to this practice and the data is only ever used internally.
More contentious is the ability to collect data, which other organisations can use. For instance, health insurance providers trying to understand how healthy an employee’s behaviour is when setting the cost of monthly premiums. In the case of the sameday delivery market, monitoring at this level could be regarded as an invasion of privacy as it’s not relevant in the context of the industry.
The best way forward:
Given current adoption rates, wearables will inevitably make a big impact on the way delivery companies work. Experts are already giving their arrival a new moniker and coining the issue ‘BYOD 2.0’. Even more so than with the original BYOD, it will be essential to have clear usage policies in place and an excellent understanding of responsibilities and expectations at both the employee and customer level.
Provided this is in place and appropriate restrictions relating to security, privacy and the types of devices that can be supported are implemented, there is no reason why delivery service providers cannot benefit from the improved productivity and efficiency that wearables can bring into a business. Our advice is to proceed with caution.