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Buttoning Down Privacy and Security Measures in 2016 – Wearables and the IoT

Remember as a kid watching all of those apocalyptic sci-fi flicks where hackers held countries hostage with single keyboard strokes, smart devices took on minds of their own and sinister robots ran amuck?

We haven’t quite hit Space Odyssey levels yet, but new tech has reached awe inspiring levels of both intelligence and connectivity that teeter on dangerous. The ever increasing amount of personal information online, increasing sophistication of organized crime, increasing state surveillance and ever more powerful tools in the hands of script kiddies pose real threats to our modern society.

In the past year, we experienced record breaking data breaches exposing millions of personal information logs, many belonging to high-profile figures and originating from “secure” systems and trusted brands. Already, experts expect 2016 to be worse.

As we continue to tether our devices and connect our lives through increasingly intelligent devices, we simultaneously create doors for our personal, private and valuable information to escape. Those who understand the flaws of our new connected systems are outpacing the people who proactively secure information. 2015 was our wake-up call; 2016 we will need to do better.

Security issues continue to catch headlines at an unprecedented rate and consumers, businesses and politicians have taken notice. Suppliers are in fearful scrambles to tighten security and be more transparent about what security they provide. Simultaneously, new connected devices such as wearables and other Internet of Things items are growing as repositories for some of our most guarded information.

As our IoT cloud darkens, are we ready for the storm to come?

In 2016, consumer lean on companies to provide top-tier security will be greater than ever before. Companies should be prepared to answer questions about the security measures they have in place and have those measures meticulously scrutinized. Hackers, both white hat and black, will inspect portals with damaging consequences to companies with slack security.

Likewise, consumers and politicians will continue to button down privacy by advocating for privacy laws. Application of those laws in 2016 may challenge the business models of several large companies globally.

The European government’s recent overturning of Safe Harbor is the first glimmer of change that will likely spill into 2016. Safe Harbor, which allowed companies to transfer customer data between the E.U. and the U.S. without prior customer permission, was retracted largely because of the U.S.’s failure to protect customers’ personal data. Its temporary removal/renegotiation has complicated cross-seas business relations. Thousands of companies will need to re-evaluate their process of moving data.

Luckily, writing legal language about transfer of data across seas is becoming a more commonplace business standard. Many businesses have proactively locked personal data behind walls that far exceed any diplomatic regulations. In 2016, more and more companies will follow suit.
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