Consumers lack IoT security knowhow, despite concerns of cyber crime

A survey of over 6,000 UK residents has revealed that 66 per cent of consumers are very worried about hacks and breaches against their Internet of Things (IOT) connected devices, and 72 per cent don’t know how to protect themselves from these risks.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to become even larger and more pervasive in the near future as more devices are connected to the internet. Over a quarter of consumers are planning to buy IoT devices in the next 12 months alone.


Deep security concerns

Howver, the survey mobile and internet security form BullGuard, found that 34 per cent of respondents have already experienced a security incident or privacy problem in the past. A large 78 per cent of consumers expressed concern about security risks such as viruses, malware and hackers, while 66 per cent of consumers express concern over data collected by device manufacturers being inappropriately used or stolen. A total of 57 per cent of consumers are also anxious about privacy breaches.

The IoT industry has yet to establish common security standards among devices. Smart device manufacturers tend to adopt their own approach to security while updates to ensure device security are often too technical and complex for consumers to carry out, even those who are technically literate. BullGuard’s research revealed that 22 per cent of consumers with advanced technical skills are not confident in their ability to keep their connected devices secure.


IoT used for state spying

These vulnerabilities have even been acknowledged by intelligence agencies across the world. In a recent testimony to the US senate James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said: “In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking…or to gain access to networks or user credentials.”


Education is essential

Clearly there are still issues to address when it comes to reassuring and educating consumers, even those who consider themselves technically literate.

When asked how they would rate their computer skills, the majority of respondents – 63 per cent – described themselves as ‘intermediate or advanced’. 81 per cent said they are capable of setting up their own router, yet when asked if they have changed their router’s password, 63 per cent said ‘no.’ 49 per cent also admitted that they don’t know how, and a substantial 72 per cent do not know how to configure a router to keep a home network secure.

Router security is essential in the realm of IoT. An IoT device provides a gateway to a home network via a router, allowing cyber criminals the ability to essentially ‘scope out’ home networks and remain undetected.

“Consumers are clearly not equipped to handle the myriad of security risks presented by connected devices,” said Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard. “With devices such as security cameras, alarm systems and door locks now being connected to the internet, physical security is becoming as much of a consideration for consumers as data security. Keeping these devices secure is absolutely imperative.”

Consumers are clearly looking to antivirus vendors to help them solve this problem; 44 per cent of consumers believe antivirus vendors are responsible for securing their connected devices. The antivirus vendor was selected as the primary choice, even ahead of the device manufacturer and the ISP.

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