Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Will Wearable Devices Create More Security and Privacy Breaches?

Next week, Apple plans to unveil their Apple Watch with availability in April.  Already out in the market are other wearable devices including Fitbit, Pebble smartwatch and others.  In the meantime, we have become more and more tied to our smart phones and tablets and see opportunities for being connected to other devices as the next best thing.  But are there also risks and concerns?

The opportunities for wearables are tremendous. From collecting health information to replacing physical credit cards.  Apple Pay is a great new feature that makes purchasing more convenient.  Adding that functionality to its watch enables an even better experience.  But the idea of wearable devices can be extended to multiple applications.  It could unlock and even start a car as we get near it, unlock our front door without scrambling for our house keys.  Houses with alarms enabled could recognize the device and instantly disable without the need to punch in a code.  Heck, a wearable device could make physical keys a thing of the past. 

But what about privacy and security?  Are we opening up additional risk that these kinds of locks could be more easily opened with other sophisticated technology?  Will our health information, like our bank and credit card data, be at risk as well?  Is there something to be said for a physical lock as opposed to a digital one?  These seem like huge challenges that have not been fully addressed.  As more and more consumers suffer from credit card fraud, are we opening Pandora's box?

A lost key can be replaced.  It may be on a keychain but it tends to lack personal information that tells the name of the owner, where they live and how to reach them.  A smartphone or smartwatch could be a different issue.  These devices aggregate all our data with the possibility that once unlocked, could be very dangerous to our privacy and security.  Could we be possibly be opening ourselves to too much risk?

The risk verse reward balance of connecting our devices to the environment we move around in is a serious one.  How we can protect ourselves from stolen data, fraud, and possible invasion and theft is one that has to be baked into the technology.  And marketed in a way to allay our fears and demonstrate how much grander the rewards can be.