Friday, 14 November 2014 21:13

The Internet of hackable, wearable things at work

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BYOW - ‘bring your own wearables’ to work. It is already happening as Fitbits, Android Wear watches, Microsoft Bands and more are already on wrists, going wherever people go, which includes the workplace, and unsurprisingly, there is concern!

ISACA is an independent, nonprofit, global association, and it engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems.

It used to be known as the ‘Information Systems Audit and Control Association’, but now goes by its acronym only, to reflect the broad range of IT governance professionals it serves.

It is this organisation which has released its latest 2014 IT Risk/Reward Barometer that you can see here with several infographics and survey results, with the direct PDF download available here.

The report acknowledges the rise of the Internet of Things, as well as the rising tide of wearable technology - which is now entering the workplace from the bottom up - on the wrists of workers.

The report asks whether enterprises are ready, and whether we as consumers are aware of the risks and opportunities, which are clearly important questions to be asking.

The ISACA report page, linked above, has plenty of information, as well as the recommendation of an ‘embrace and educate’ approach, which is solid advice.

Among the many things in the report are clear concerns about the safety of ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices, which include 26% concerned over devices being hacked into so something malicious can be done, while 26% are concerned about ‘not knowing how the information collected by the devices will be used’.

For me, I have just received a review unit of the rather cool looking LG G Watch R, and it has essentially forced me to turn on Google Now, which I have been resisting for all this time, and while Google publishes all of its privacy policies, do I really know exactly what Google is doing with all that info, and when it makes sneaky changes to policies that I’ve essentially just clicked ‘next, next, next’ to?

Because of this, I can certainly understand the concerns about wearables, but hey, I’m embracing them and educating myself about them as ISACA co-incidentally recommends, so… let’s see how that goes.

That said, let’s get back to ISACA’s report.

Despite the clear concerns about privacy and security, we are clearly seeing more and more wearables out there, which includes in the workplace.

Some noteworthy results include:

75% of men vs 66% of women ‘would consider using a wearable device at work.’

45% ‘would consider using an employee access card’ (with plenty of office workers already using such cards every day for years and years that I can see in the CBD), and 30% would consider using a ‘wireless fitness tracker’ - something a Fitbit clearly falls under the definition of - but the Borg-like spectre of Google Glass seems to have freaked people out spooky-style, with only 12% willing to become workplace Glassholes.

When it comes to ISACA’s own members in Australia and New Zealand, 58% ‘believe having a wearable in the workplace is risky’, although 35% think ‘the benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) outweighs the risk for enterprises’.

When it comes to the IT people in workplaces, those that manage everything and have had to deal with the encroachment of the BYOD revolution, from Palm Pilots to iPhones to tablets and now this influx of personal wearable connected devices, ISACA’s report shows that not many IT Depts are yet truly ready.

Only 37% of Aust/NZ members either has plans or expects to create plans over the next year to take advantage of the IoT revolution, but even then, over 56% state their BYOD policies are not year BYOW ready.

Stunningly, 35% don’t even have a BYOD policy, let alone a BYOW policy. It makes you think WTF, LOL and hey, YOLO with a good dose of FOMO while ROFLing all over the place.

When it comes to benefits and risks, 35% say the benefits of IoT outweigh the risks for enterprises, but 33% think the opposite.

35% are ‘very concerned about the decreasing level of personal privacy’, but only 51% are ‘somewhat concern’, which is, well, concerning.

Sydney based ISACA VP Garry Barnes says: The Internet of Things is here, and we are likely to see a surge in wearable devices in the workplace. These devices can deliver great value, but they can also bring great risk. Companies should take an ‘embrace and educate’ approach.”

You could even take Microsoft’s old approach to heart - “embrace and extend”, but if these wearables ever end up turning us into Cybermen, well, there’s always Doctor Who to save us.

Until then, don’t let the wearables wear you out, and be assured that a full moon will not turn you into a ‘Wearwolf’.

For more information, be sure to check out ISACA’s report.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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