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Wear-Your-Own-Device (WYOD)? Are You Ready?

Posted On: May 10, 2016

Topic: IT Hardware

blog_watch.jpgBarely five years old now, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has forced organizations worldwide to rethink their policies to allow employees the flexibility to use the device of their choice, despite the increase in security risk. Now, just as organizations are beginning to get a handle on BYOD, another trend – wear-your-own-device (WYOD) – has come along. Organizations who treat WYOD as the same as BYOD will run into trouble, as WYOD brings a different set of challenges, which include a wave of new security vulnerabilities.  

While many executives don’t believe they need to worry about this trend in the enterprise yet, the data suggests differently. Predictions date back as far as a 2014 Forrester Research report, where J.P Gownder proclaimed that "Wearables aren't just a consumer phenomenon; they have the potential to change the way organizations and workers conduct business." A recent article in the Huffington Post quoted a survey that found that 71% of 16 to 24 year olds want to own some sort of wearable technology – meaning there will soon be an influx in WYOD in your organization.

Sales of WYOD, from smart watches and fitness trackers to smart glasses, is one of the fastest growing IT trends. Industry analyst CCS Insight suggests that by 2018, WYOD devices will be shipping in mass numbers — more than 130 million per year. WYOD includes devices that:

  • Are worn in an everyday way and continuously active
  • Utilize limited-functionality and specialized applications
  • Leverage IP to communicate with other devices and the Internet as a whole

Enterprise-class wearables have the potential to improve and streamline processes and impact business by enabling new forms of collaboration, and could fundamentally change the way that we conduct business, but what is the risk?

What are the Key Risk Factors for WYOD?

Like its predecessor BYOD, WYOD is raising concerns around security, privacy and compliance. Unlike BYOD, WYOD…

  • Does not usually include login credentials such as PIN protection, passwords or authentication
  • Most often stores data locally without encryption

To date we have not seen a major attack, but as the number of employees using these devices increases, so too will the threats. Intel has predicted that 2016 will be the year that cybercriminals start testing wearables for vulnerabilities. Because WYOD is designed to link to other devices for extended functionality, modifications or upgrades in an even more seamless manner than BYOD, this form of interaction can and will be leveraged by hackers to create an exploit.

More subtly perhaps, the fact that WYOD doesn’t naturally fall under BYOD security solutions is a risk.  Many organizations, for instance, utilize some form of endpoint security, such as virtualization, logical containers, or both, to lock down BYOD devices like smartphones and tablets.  This approach simply will not apply in most WYOD contexts, because WYOD devices often won’t have much, if any, user-manageable storage.

Building a Smart WYOD Strategy

Forward-looking businesses need to start building in WYOD policies and practices now.  If you’re wondering how to get started with WYOD, you’re not alone — nor do you have to be.  

OneNeck IT Solutions has expertise with hybrid cloud, mobility and security solutions.  We have extensive experience in helping organizations of all sizes come to grips with all the complexities of new technology, and we’d be glad to help you develop a proactive, content-centric security strategy that can lock down your cloud-hosted data, no matter where’s it’s accessed — or by what device.