Beam Me Up: Employer's Risk with Wearable Devices
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Well, the day has come where science fiction is now a reality. More and more people are using wearable, techy devices that can do everything from track your location and movement, to vital signs, to streamlined communication. Think Google Glass, Bluetooth headsets, Nike Fuelband and the much anticipated iWatch. While these devices range from headgear to footwear, they’re still relatively new in the market place – but their popularity is exploding. And with any new trend or device, they’ll eventually show up in the workplace with employees either wearing their personal device at work, or by companies embracing them in an effort to improve health and safety. So what’re some of the risks companies face with wearable devices and what can they do to protect themselves?
The risk companies face range from privacy, liability and security issues. Many companies assume that their current workplace policies will cover these problems. Intellectual property loss is one of the greatest risks. Many of these devices have the ability to record and take photos without user activation and covertly. And to make matter worse, there’s very little security in these devices so a hacker could possibly use it as a spy device. Another major risk is employee privacy in the workplace. What if employees wear these devices in the restroom, or the health data from an employee’s device is accidently downloaded in an unsecure file onto the company server through a wireless link? Finally, insurance coverage may be limited, or not exist at all depending on the policy and particular scenario and facts.
However, there are a few steps companies can take to reduce the risk and impact of wearable devices:
- Update your HR policies to include wearable device usage in the workplace
- Look at improving or installing a technical infrastructure to prevent these devices from being used in a company building
- Update your IT security protocols to limit devices from accessing or linking to company networks
- For optimal control, companies can just issue wearable devices to their employees that have approved security protocols and secure file downloads installed before employee use
As devices become smaller and smaller, it continues to push us into uncharted territory. But, recognizing the risks early and taking some basic steps can prevent a lot of issues down the road.
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