Security consultant, MWR InfoSecurity

Author Bio ▼

Jahmel Harris performs security assessements and penetration tests including web, mobile and desktop software for MWR InfoSecurity He also speaks provides training at public/private events and conferences. MWR is leading the way in which information security is delivered, enhancing the security of vital data and communications resources of ambitious and responsible organisations. As an international company, they are considered to be global Thought Leaders on our subject. We work with our clients by developing a comprehensive understanding of their needs, challenges and opportunities, and, through that, a deep mutual trust.
February 27, 2015

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5 Ways Wearable Tech Will Change the Security Industry

Last year mobile internet traffic overtook desktop PC-generated traffic for the first time.

But if the mobile device has only just won unchallenged ascendancy over the ‘immobile’ computer then a new epoch is suddenly upon us: wearables.

It’s clear wearables could have a wide range of applications – check out this innovation for live events for example – some of which are surely yet to occur to anyone. But what will their proliferation mean for the security industry?

  1. Increase in radio testing/toolkits

The first way I see wearables changing the security industry is the introduction of new tools and techniques for computer security researchers and hackers. Wearables may be the cause of a renewed interest in attacking devices with radio transceivers and wireless protocols.

Like most technologies, as soon as wearables hit the tipping point they’ll become interesting targets for cyber criminals and the radio link will often be the path of least resistance.

Coupled with the falling cost of ‘software-defined radio’, it’s feasible that we’ll start to find more vulnerabilities in common radio-based protocols such as NFC, Zigbee or Bluetooth Low Energy.

Jean luc picard star trek

Captain Jean-Luc Picard after being assimilated by the ‘borg’ in Star Trek

This could have a knock-on effect on non-wearable devices which use the same radio technology, such as wireless payment systems, wireless alarms and radio controlled locks.

  1. Mobile Payment Malware

Mobile payments may see an increase in mobile malware. Consumers are starting to use mobile devices for payments and with big names like Google, Apple and Paypal behind them, merchants are starting to accept these types of transactions.

In the past, mobile malware has often not given the attention it deserves due to perceived lack of sensitive data stored on a phone (compared to a PC). With wearables acting as our digital wallets, malware suddenly has a high impact target.

The introduction of wearables for payments could see an increase in malware attacking either wearables themselves, or the phones used to manage them.

  1. Identification and Access Control

We are already seeing wearables used for identification. Recently, the NFC ring was successfully funded on Kickstarter. This ring uses an embedded NFC chip which is used to identify an individual and can be used for Access Control Systems and authentication for smart phones, computers and locks.

As wearables become more advanced, it may be possible to embed biometric data into them, using things like gait or voice. This could have implications in many areas; including payments and physical security. A lost or stolen wearable device would be like losing the keys to your kingdom.

  1. Corporate and Sensitive Environments

In corporate/secure environments, wearables may pose unseen threats by allowing users to record video and audio of sensitive information. MDM solutions are available to manage mobile devices in office with a BYOD policy, however this does not necessarily translate to wearable technology.

For example, current MDM solutions do not support Android Wear, although Android Wear can still receive sensitive information stored on the phone, such as email, SMS and information about phone calls.

Additionally, in sensitive environments, there may be policy in place to restrict smart phones but often these will not cover wearables. Until company policy is changed to cover smart devices, it should be understood that these devices in corporate environments can pose significant risks.

  1. Privacy

Privacy needs to be considered when discussing wearable technology. Wearables such as Google Glass have been designed to allow its users to record the world around them, and although this has some benefits, it certainly comes as at a price.

Not everyone is happy with the idea of the potential for every interaction to be recorded and Google Glass has been the cause of physical attacks in the past. Some wearables require “learning” about the life and habits of the user.

In order to do this, information about friends, family, work and home locations and searches are stored and analysed to provide personalised results. This means information about usage is sent to online services, sometimes without the user necessarily realising it’s happening.

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4 Comments on "5 Ways Wearable Tech Will Change the Security Industry"

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Richard Marshall
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How does the content of this article relate to the title…?

Todd Rockoff
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I find the idea of Internet-connected body-worn mobile surveillance cameras really intriguing. Imagine generating 3D views by composing streams from cameras worn by various people in a given area.

hackerfantastic
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mwrinfosecurity iantshaw criminals get all the cool stuff, p2p, encryption & look they had wearables for years! 😉 http://twitter.com/hackerfantastic/status/575647585895120898/photo/1

Britniytc
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HikvisionUSAinc great tweet my friend