Wearable technology is driving some amazing innovations – merging physical and logical worlds to improve everything from shopping to healthcare and athletic performance. But technology is a twoedged sword – new capabilities also open the door to new attack vectors. Technology is value-neutral, so the capabilities developed to make day-to-day life easier can also be used by criminals to damage and wreak havoc.
Before the advent of smartphones, daily life was very physical, and the world had a different security optic. As a cybersecurity professional, I pay attention to these changes and their implications. Physical “things” helped us navigate our lives – maps, phone booths, yellow pages, encyclopedias, cameras, alarm clocks, etc. – all of which took some effort to use, and they were not always convenient. They could not track my activities or intuit my interests. Then came the smartphone, and with it all the artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data that we talk about. The next step is to be able to wear something that makes the information useful to me, so I don’t have to carry it – thus the advent of wearables. The wearables world is moving quickly to take over new horizons of capability.
Now, the phone in my pocket communicates with the things I wear – most commonly, my smartwatch and headphones, but increasingly it is moving to other form factor capabilities. Today my phone is the “server” for tools and apps, but it may not always play that role.
The front edge of wearables drives some promising changes, and leading the way are the fields of athletics and medicine. These fields, which are being invaded by wearables, represent giant leaps forward in the telemetry and precision of assessing performance and health. They bring the ability to track health indicators in real-time, evaluate micro-changes in performance, and they support the analysis with details. As technology pushes its forward edges, we are starting to see things that could not be done without a person – or at all – being done automatically and routinely.
But the changes are not entirely rosy. The very technology that brings these amazing promises also brings threats. What are these threats, and how do they apply to wearables? Look through cybersecurity industry reports on the frequency and vectors of attacks, and you will find numerous ways of categorizing the attacks.