Digital wearables can expose users to cyberattacks: IEEE

Close-up Of a young athlete wearing smart watch and holding kettle bell In the gym
| Photo Credit: AndreyPopov

Digital wearables, smartwatches and fitness trackers pose unique threats to the security and privacy of customer data, warned the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a global outfit for technical professionals.

“By connecting a wearable to an extended ecosystem, one is exposing a larger attack surface,” cautioned Aiyappan Pillai, IEEE Senior Member. “Cybersecurity experts look at this as a supply chain that includes a data generator, an analytics engine and a service provider. Each link in the chain, including the connecting networks, presents a potential risk.” 

As per a document shared by the IEEE, most criminal intrusions of computer networks have a financial motive. That may lead people to conclude that wearables have a low cybersecurity risk. But wearables data, especially in healthcare settings, is often tied to financial information.

“Depending on the organisation from which it was obtained, stolen health data can be extremely valuable because it often includes so much personally identifiable information – including birthdays, email addresses and other login information, that can be used for identity theft purposes,” said Kevin Curran, a senior member at IEEE.

Hospitals, for example, should maintain extensive databases of personally identifiable information for billing purposes. Hence the rise of wearables, implants and other connected devices adds a new dimension to cybersecurity risk, the body suggested.

According to Mr. Curran, having such a large and diverse array of devices connected to the network will mean that there will be countless connected endpoints in each hospital. “If proper visibility of the network is not achieved, then each endpoint will represent a potential vulnerability to try and exploit for cybercriminals,” he added.

India has been witnessing massive adoption of wearable technology in recent years. Wearables have become popular in the country as they allowed users to stay connected and also offered tracker services for health, medication, sleep, exercise/walk etc.

The wearables market in India had record-breaking double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2022, with shipments surpassing 13.9 million devices, as per IDC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *