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Wearable technology, which is tipped to be the most popular gift for adults for 2014, is likely to cause data security headaches for businesses in the new year, say experts.

The new craze for WiFi-enabled watches and jewellery is set to bring a host of problems, such as viruses and data leaks, into the workplace in January which the majority of businesses are simply not prepared for, says data security expert Walter Rossi at specialist business IT and telecoms provider, Daisy Group.

“Many organisations’ IT teams are already struggling to deal effectively with the issues raised by people bringing their own personal mobile devices, such as tablets, to work, but there will be new and different problems to deal with as more and more people receive wearable technology as Christmas presents”, he explained.

According to Walter Rossi, there are a range of potential issues linked to wearables due to them not having the relevant software and controls installed. One of the most serious risks is their ability to spread viruses and malware (software that is in many instances used by criminals to obtain valuable business information) which can be spread through business networks.

Another potential problem is the unexpected increase in the volume of devices using a business’ network and slowing the system down or causing breakdowns.

To deal with the problem, he advises companies to consider locking down their business WiFi network for unknown devices and creating a “guest” and staff WiFi network that allow devices to work but does not interfere with legitimate business communications.

He explained: “Blocking access for personal devices may be counterproductive as staff will always try to find a way around this. Additionally, some personal devices may actually make business smoother in the case of time management and making staff easier to contact.

Walter Rossi also recommends businesses‘ HR teams should implement a BYOD (bring your own device) policy to clarify whether and how personal devices should be used within the work environment, and what the result of failure to adhere to the policy would be.

He explained: “Businesses need to think ahead. A good BYOD policy should make staff aware what the threats are to businesses in a clear and objective way, and encourage them to act responsibly. Where BYOD is permitted, software controls should be put in place to minimise risks to the business.”
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