Tech-savvy field service organizations are equipping their employees with the latest wearables, including health trackers to make business operations more efficient and techs happier. While health wearables promise to encourage employees to lead a healthy lifestyle, foster a sense of community and even reduce insurance premiums, those benefits don’t come without a cost.
The actual device, whether it’s a Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band or Jawbone Up, costs upwards of $100, but the true cost that raises concern is increased data usage (and therefore a skyrocketing mobile bill) and the risk of compromised data. While wearables are predicted to save field service organizations $1 billion by 2017, managers are weighing the costs with the benefits.
When health wearables are developed, privacy and security aren’t always top of mind. “Because [health wearables] need to be highly integrated and connected, there are some security risks as well,” Domingo Guerra, co-founder of app risk management firm Appthority, told Information Week. “From the perspective of security, we need to make sure we learn our lessons from what we saw with mobile.”
Here are four data and security risks to be aware of when introducing health wearables:
- Increase in data bill. As health wearables are added to the company plan, field service organizations can expect to see their mobile bill skyrocket. When the number of wearables increases from 22 million in 2013 to 177 million in 2018, mobile data usage will increase 11-fold, according to a Cisco report.
- Vague privacy policies. Less than half of self-tracking apps have privacy policies. While these policies are a step in the right direction, many are vague and in the end state that they may share personal information. Since HIPAA regulations don’t yet apply to health wearables, field techs have next to no privacy rights from data being shared with the company and third party vendors.
- Compromised corporate information. Health wearables not only have activity and sleep data, but also personal credentials and, when connected to the corporate network, company information. The IT department must ensure that company data is secure from hackers and protected in the case of lost or stolen devices. “Weak session management can be exploited by cybercriminals to hijack sessions so that they can masquerade as other users,” according to the Symantec blog. “This can lead to information leaks, data vandalism, and other problems.”
Keeping wearables data safe is already a top-of-mind concern for IT professionals with six in 10 saying they’re worried about securing wearables and the additional strain on IT departments, according to the Human Cloud at Work project.
- Employees’ personal privacy. Since more than 13 million health wearables will be incorporated into corporate wellness programs in the next five years, according to ABI Research, managers and executives must be wary of overstepping the personal boundaries of employees. Some employees won’t want the person who makeS promotion and firing decisions to know about his activity and sleep habits for fear of it impacting performance evaluations.
While there are many advantages of arming a service team with health wearables, organizations best beware of the data and security implications.