Is it Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) time?

It's nearly time to revise your BYOD strategy to accommodate wearables in the enterprise. Some even suggest the advent of separate WYOD policies.

Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

As the excitement of wearables gives way to more users bringing them into the workplace, it means it might be time to review your company's Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies to support the entry of the devices into your enterprise. Some analysts and pundits have even gone as far as calling for the advent of Wear Your Own Device (WYOD) policies.

So many BYOD strategies (if an organization even has one) revolve around smartphones and tablets. Wearable technologies whether they are Google Glass, the Pebble Steel watch, or another wearable to be released at a future date, could pose additional security risks. It's up to organizations to chart where and when wearables are entering their enterprise and then building out policies to protect the enterprise and corporate data.

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Impending changes to BYOD strategy

Stephen Brown, director of product management for mobility at LANDESK ranks wearables as an interesting segment but still at an early stage. He said, "Wearables are already in the enterprise in certain segments. We have experience in wearables from a task worker perspective. A lot of the rugged devices have moved to a wearable form factor."

"When you think about a knowledge worker and wearables, you think about Google Glass and the Samsung Gear," Brown said. "I think depending on the organization the first thing they have to consider is privacy. Like for Google Glass, is it recording? What information is it capturing? If I am a hospital, is it patient information. I think there are some considerations."

Those wearables are coming with a more robust operating system with a fair amount of storage.

He called wearables "a little wild west right now."

"You don't see a lot of solutions on the market for securing and managing those devices. I don't think it will be a reach for those technologies to come into play," Brown said. "Google Glass is running a full Android stack." He sees such wearables becoming full solutions because of their robust operating system and storage.

Brown said organizations need to start with acceptable use policies for wearables. The audio and photo features of Google Glass and other such wearables present represent the two areas where existing BYOD policies need updates and additions. The features also represent where wearables harken new era for potential security risks.

While the pricing of Google Glass might be holding it back from coming into some enterprises, Brown did use healthcare as an example of where wearables could enter the enterprise despite their current high price for consumers. I recently wrote about BYOD in healthcare. It's completely conceivable that a doctor could afford Google Glass leading to a healthcare institution having to update their BYOD policies about the potential risks that the device's audio and video recording means to patient privacy. Outside of healthcare, I don't see the uptake of Google Glass and other wearables at this time due to the lack of availability and current high cost of such devices

Therefore, beyond a BYOD policy, may have objections with some wearables beyond the sometime objections they might have with an employee's personally owned tablet or smartphone. I live and work in the Washington, D.C. area, where armed security guards and secure offices are fairly common. I think that Google Glass and the other eyeglass wearables that are sure to follow are going to draw more scrutiny than a clunky wrist watch when a user walks past the front desk in the morning.

Three technology signs wearables might impact your BYOD initiative

I still consider myself a relatively new follower of wearables, but when I look beyond my Fitbit, I'm just not seeing the tipping points yet for wearables to cause a change to a BYOD strategy just yet.

In my view, the signs are:

  • Significant SSD storage on the wearable device
  • Enterprise-grade synchronization between the wearable, a corporate/BYOD mobile device, and/or PC/Mac.
  • Multipeer Connectivity support (Yes, rumored iWatch, I'm looking at you!)

To me, when wearables evolve further into devices that can risk corporate data security is when current and future end point security, mobile device management (MDM), and other vendors take notice of the trend and adapt their solutions accordingly.

Is it WYOD time?

When I first came across the whole concept of WYOD, I had my doubts since I've grown cynical over BYOD-derivative concepts. The more I researched the potential impact of wearables on a BYOD policy, the potential privacy implications that Brown brought up during our conversation are going to mean additions and revisions to BYOD policies especially around acceptable use, privacy, and security/confidentiality.

The the time for wearables in the enterprise is yet to come for many enterprises. However, IT security and others involved in BYOD initiatives would be best served to watch the rise of wearables in their own enterprise so they can take a proactive versus reactive stance once employee's want to start accessing network resources via this new class of mobile devices.

Wearables survey

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