Is Smart Glasses Technology Really Safe?

Understand the data privacy challenges in smart glasses tech. Learn about cyber risks, and the power of data protection laws.

Eyewear customers might be experiencing a sense of déjà vu. It seemed like technology-infused eyewear was a distant daydream after security concerns plagued Google Glass until it was discontinued.

smart glasses

However, smart glasses are attempting to rebrand and achieve the resurgence they deserve following the debacle that was Google Glass. Wearable tech has been a trend, but smart glasses are a more recent development – one that has had a few years to refine itself according to customer needs. Do people really want to record videos with their sunglasses to upload directly to Facebook, or do they desire a different smart experience entirely? Perhaps all they want is security.

Acknowledging the Roots of the Data Problem

All smart technology undergoes a process of integrating the product with advanced cybersecurity practices. Most smart glasses incorporate augmented reality (AR), GPS, and microphones, among other features. Managing all these aspects can be quite challenging. Adopting a hands-free, Google-right-before-your-eyes lifestyle comes with some safety concerns. However, it is essential to understand a few societal influences that set the smart glasses market up for potential security failure.

The world has become increasingly preoccupied with data privacy, as legislation emerges to regulate and protect citizens. These standards are still in their infancy, which is crucial to consider in the broader cybersecurity conversation surrounding smart glasses. Another factor to keep in mind is that traditional glasses manufacturers have likely never had to address security issues before.

personal digital data

Currently, tech companies are focused on pioneering these wearables, not catering to traditional eyewear markets. However, this focus will eventually shift, and non-technical sectors will need to become more tech-literate. The question remains: is this a healthy marriage, or do smart glasses and cybersecurity require some couples’ therapy?

Just like smart watches began collecting questionable health data, smart glasses gather lots of personal and corporate data points, like:

  • Biometrics
  • Status of other connected tech, like machines or phones
  • Video and audio of surroundings
  • Location
  • Data in connected software
  • Employee metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Inventory stores

Where does all that information go? Is it stored properly and ethically protected?

Addressing the Cybersecurity Elephant in the Room

Smart glasses are certainly collecting data, which raises concerns about invasion of privacy. Another potential issue arises from how companies use this information. Are they selling data to third parties for research purposes or merely out of greed? Manufacturers must be transparent about minimizing data collection, ensuring that they only gather what is necessary and protect it from external sources.

Customers remain skeptical that this will become the standard practice, particularly when they encounter unsettling targeted advertisements based on recent data activity they were not even aware of being significant. This gives them an eerie sense of déjà vu.

smart glasses

How are smart glasses manufacturers using features to address these security concerns so they don’t go in the red? The cost of security breaches rose 17% in 2021, so smart glasses have to tout their built-in features, such as:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Additional authentication
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs)
  • Software update reminders
  • Data collection toggling, such as turning off location
  • Access to privacy policies and update notifications

This all sounds technical. However, these foundational security perks will keep customers safe until it evolves.

How Cybercriminals See Through Your Eyes

Smart glasses are susceptible to cyberattacks due to their vulnerabilities. The most significant concern that companies should defend against is transmission interceptions. This depends on the versatility and customizability of privacy features. Cybercriminals could potentially record data from private management meetings containing company secrets or even your own birthday party with friends. Consent is crucial, and smart glasses may be a tough sell when that’s not an option.

Surveillance threat actors don’t even need to spend money or time obtaining or installing the technology. It’s akin to joining a Twitch chat to view a public livestream that nobody invited a hacker to. Most smart glasses users don’t consider how this technology also puts everything in their line of sight at risk. Targeted cybersecurity attacks, such as the notorious spear phishing, could occur via a blissfully unaware spy who happens to be your co-worker – and they’re not even in on it. These recordings can reveal countless clues for criminals to steal identities, commit fraud, and jeopardize livelihoods.

smart glasses security risk

Who wants to feel like they’re being watched while having an after-work beer at a local bar just because smart glasses exist? These glasses could collect information on how much you spent on that drink, how long you spent drinking it, and even the color of the beer. This level of intrusion is quite invasive. However, every technology has gone through or is currently undergoing constant development to combat novel security risks. Should this consideration dismiss the potential value that smart glasses could bring? Perhaps not.

Securing Smart Glasses for a Smarter Future

Addressing security concerns for smart glasses will be a gradual process of improvement. While the responsibility lies with the manufacturers, there is also an implicit obligation for consumers to be aware of their data rights. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, and the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the U.S., serve as excellent starting points.

You can request data deletion or additional protection. Until companies are mandated to provide all this information directly to customers, it is worthwhile to conduct some research to determine how to keep your smart glasses data more secure.