Sounding Off on Internet of Things

Monday, June 23, 2014 @ 03:06 PM gHale


When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) device manufacturers are on the hook for security, a new report said.

If a vulnerability ended up discovered in a connected home device, 48 percent of all surveyed agreed the device manufacturer is responsible for updating/patching their device. However, 31 percent responded with “as a homeowner, it is my responsibility to make sure that the device is up to date,” according to an independently administered survey in 11 countries by Fortinet. Americans responded similarly with 49 percent putting the responsibility on the device manufacturer.

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The survey gives a global perspective about the Internet of Things from a consumer’s point of view, what security and privacy issues are in play, and what homeowners are willing to do to enable it. Completed this month, the survey asked 1,801 tech-savvy homeowners questions relating to the Internet of Things as it pertains to the connected home.

A majority (61 percent) of all respondents believe the connected home (a home in which household appliances and home electronics are seamlessly connected to the Internet) is “extremely likely” to become a reality in the next five years. China led the world in this category with more than 84 percent showing support. In the U.S., 61 percent said the connected home is extremely likely to happen in the next five years.

A majority of all respondents voiced their concern that a connected appliance could result in a data breach or exposure of sensitive, personal information. Globally, 70 percent said they were either “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about this issue. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. respondents said that they were “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned.”

When asked about the privacy of collected data, a majority of global respondents stated, “privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used.” India led the world with this response at 63 percent. Fifty-seven percent in the U.S. agreed.

Relating to privacy, respondents would not be happy at all if a connected home device was secretly or anonymously collecting information about them and sharing it with others. Most (62 percent) answered “completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action.” The strongest responses came from South Africa, Malaysia and the United States. Sixty-seven percent of Americans also agreed with this statement.

When asked who should have access to the data collected by a connected home appliance, 44 percent said only themselves or those to whom they give permission should have this information. Of note, China, India and the United States also listed that IoT device manufacturers and/or their ISP should have access to collected data, too. Forty-six percent of those in the U.S. wanted personal control over collected data. Additionally, 34 percent of Americans felt that either the device manufacturer or their ISP should have access to the collected data.

Forty-two percent of respondents around the world said their government should regulate collected data, while 11 percent said regulation should end up enforced by an independent, non-government organization. In the U.S., 33 percent agreed the government should regulate collected data.

There is a difference in opinion on how connected home devices should end up secured. In nearly equal proportion were those who replied, “a home router should provide protection,” versus those who said, “my Internet provider should provide protection.” The U.S. was no different from the rest of the world, having nearly a 50-50 split.

When asked, “would you be willing to pay for a new wireless router optimized for connected home devices,” 40 percent responded with “definitely” and another 47 percent said “maybe.” In a follow-on question, more than 50 percent said they would pay more for their Internet service in order to “enable connected devices to function” in their home. Similar to the rest of the world, U.S. homeowners would pay more; less than 20 percent said that they would not.

Although homeowners report a willingness to pay more to enable their connected home, when asked what factors impact their buying decisions of connected home devices, the number one answer that was consistent in all countries was price, followed by features/functionality and then manufacturer brand.



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