Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
March 9, 2015

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Wearable Tech: Could Hackers Steal a Video Record of Your Life? And Other Security Questions…

Check out the Innovation Zone at IFSEC international 2015

Register to visit IFSEC International 2015

When: 16-18 June 2015
Where: ExCeL, London

What fresh security threats does the embryonic world of wearables pose? How can businesses minimise risks?

We posed a number of such questions to a respected figure in the cyber security field who serves the high net-worth community through innovative service and delivers a holistic approach to security and risk.

Frank Morey, CEO of security and risk management firm Virtus Risk Management, also thought the spectre of a future where people routinely record hours, days and weeks of their lives and promptly have it stolen, was eminently plausible…

IFSEC Global: What security risks do wearables potentially pose?

Frank Morey: The development of wearable tech has the potential to improve our work and personal lives beyond our imagination. From smart watches, to fitness trackers and Google Glass – we’re able to access and analyse data like never before, within seconds.

black mirror

From an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. “The Entire History of You” depicts a dystopian future where people can record and replay every waking moment via computer chips in their heads

But do the rewards really outweigh the risks? After all, data is at the heart of these gadgets, and if it were to fall into the wrong hands the implications could be catastrophic.

Whether it’s company-issued Google Glass, or an employee’s personal smart-watch, wearables are becoming increasingly popular within the workplace. Although the gadgets used by themselves pose little threat, once synced to a company network these devices are able to gather and share data. For example, a medical professional uses the Google Glass video recording and photo functionality during research. Taking a photo and video is harmless, but once present on the company network these films and images can be transferred to other devices, and possibly outside of the network – without consent.

The amount of personal information available to a wearable technology device is limitless – from an individual’s level of activity, to their current location, driving habits and daily routine. This is valuable information to anyone with malicious intent who may want to track or profile an individual. And consumers are aware of the danger; in a recent survey by PWC, 82% of respondents said they feared ‘wearable technology would invade their privacy’.

Furthermore, 2015 has been coined the year of the ‘healthcare hack’ as personal health records present even more value to cyber thieves than credit cards. With the increased popularity in fitness bands and activity trackers, the state of our health is now more readily available to data thieves than ever. Many medical insurers have begun using fitness bands to collect data on their customers’ activities, but this data is at high risk if cyber criminals were to hack into the company network. We have already seen an attack of this nature in the US with medical firm Anthem.

IG: What precautions can businesses take to reduce these risks?

FM: The key is to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to any kind security. It is recommended that businesses enforce a robust security and privacy policy to help protect against threats. This will also help in avoiding the prospect of litigation. Updating the network infrastructure would also be beneficial, and it’s wise to put measures in place with regards to limiting the nature and amount of data such devices can access. A terms of use policy for employees is essential to educate them thoroughly on the risks that are involved with using such technology in the workplace. A clear line needs to be drawn between what is acceptable, and what isn’t. In general, the business needs to closely examine whether the rewards outweigh the risks when it comes to using wearables in the workplace. If the answer is no, it’s better to say no.

IG: If I was a security company considering buying wearables for my security guards, what would your advice be to me?

FM: With their ability to record in real-time, wearables offer many benefits for companies in the security sector and many firms including the police are already investing in devices and more to help improve procedures. The same risks apply however, but if the right precautions are taken to mitigate this risk then they could prove to be a very powerful tool.

IG: Many years from now smart glasses are ubiquitous and many people film every waking moment of their lives. Unfortunately hackers sometimes steal several months or years of a person’s life. How plausible is that scenario in your opinion?

FM: Very plausible. The sad truth is that this is happening right now with the increased use of digital and social media.

We are a species of sharing, and whilst the majority of people we share things with are harmless, it only takes one person with a hidden agenda to take advantage of this.

Hackers now are able to cyber stalk and bully individuals, find their location, personal details, and more, and the use of smart glasses is only going to enhance this risk.

Free Download: The key to mitigating cybersecurity risks

Exploiting IoT technology without creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities is one of the defining challenges in today’s security landscape.

This report will help you to see why third parties should adhere to ‘secure by design’ principles and why the necessary convergence of IT and security departments demands a holistic approach.

Download now

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