Wearables in the workplace? Think BYOD

Even though we are at the beginning stage of wearables in the workplace, enterprises need to begin crafting policies in order to harness the productivity benefits of wearables while ensuring that sensitive data is secure and privacy rights are protected.

These policies should be based on existing BYOD policies, yet take into account some of the unique attributes of wearables. As Ryan Kalember of WatchDox argues in an article posted at Information Age,"IT teams need to develop policies and deliver technologies that let employees enjoy the benefits of these tools without risking sensitive company data."

Google Glass, for example, enables users to record video surreptitiously, a capability that has raised privacy concerns from privacy groups as well as regulators. A policy could require a Google Glass user to disable that capability when in the workplace, and geofencing technology could enforce that policy by shutting it off automatically when the worker is in the work environment.

At the same time, wearables might be more difficult than smartphones and tablets to leave behind in taxis or subway cars. This makes disclosure of corporate data through a lost device less likely for wearables.

The benefits of wearables in the workplace are many. For example, Google Glass enables a surgeon to look at patient medical information while keeping hands free for surgery. An engineer repairing a piece of equipment could look at blueprints while keep hands free to carry out the repairs. Or a truck driver could wear a smart wristband to track vital signs so that the company that employs the driver could ensure he is getting enough sleep.

Kalember recommends that enterprises adopt data-centric--rather than device-centric--security technologies to secure corporate information on wearable devices. "By protecting data at the document level and wrapping every file in a layer of unobtrusive protection, organizations could protect data on unmanaged devices and in the hands of external collaborators," he writes.

The bottom line is that enterprises need to use the same security best practices when dealing with wearables as they do when dealing with smartphones, tablets and laptops.

For more:
- read the Information Age article

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[An earlier version of the story identified the author of the Information Age article as Ben Rossi. Actually, the article was authored by Ryan Kalember of WatchDox.]