Mainstream Internet of Things raising consumer security, privacy concerns

Computers and mobile devices are already copping an onslaught of security breaches, but the situation could get a whole lot worse given the results of a pair of surveys suggesting the Internet of Things (IoT) concept – espoused by both Apple and Google in their burgeoning home and car connectivity initiatives – is both increasingly desirable and a source of growing concern about security and privacy.

Global research consultancy TNS found strong interest in emerging IoT markets, with 19 percent of consumers reporting that they are already connecting their mobile devices with other devices in the home and 28 percent saying they were interested in using this technology within the next 12 months.

Interest in in-car connectivity was equally strong, with 16 percent of consumers reporting they are already linking mobile devices with their cars and another 18 percent likely to use them in the future. The same went for health-monitoring devices, with 18 percent reporting they used the devices and 17 percent interested in using them in the future.

Those sorts of numbers have excited marketers like TNS Australia executive director Alistair Leathwood, who noted in a statement that the growth of the 'connected consumer revolution' would enable “precise targeting instead of mass reach....We should be marketing by occasions, needs, attitudes and the various mindsets for different media, reaching customers through specific channels at specific times of the day. Increasingly media is online, and online means mobile.”

While TNS' interest in the connected consumer stems from its marketing potential, the survey results suggest a growing security risk based on the results of June Fortinet research. That survey, of over 1800 tech-savvy homeowners, found that while 61 percent agreed that the connected home was “extremely likely” to become a reality in the next five years, fully 69 percent of respondents were “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about the exposure of sensitive personal information.

Some 57 percent of respondents to the Internet of Things: Connect Home survey still do not trust how the data collected from such systems would be used, while around two-thirds of respondents said they would feel “completely violated” and “extremely angry” if they learned that the data collected by devices in their connected home was secretly being shared with others.

An equal percentage wanted control over their personal data, arguing that the information should only be available to those to whom they expressly granted permission.

Government intervention was favoured by many, with 42 percent arguing that their government should regulate what data is and isn't collected in the IoT paradigm; the US was significantly lower, with just 34 percent favouring government intervention.

There was some discord about just who should protect IoT devices, with half arguing that the home router should provide protection while the other half said their Internet service provider should provide that protection.

Some 48 percent believed that the device manufacturer is responsible for updating or patching their device, while just 31 percent believed they held personal responsibility for ensuring device security. Across all countries, the price of this protection was named as the number-one factor in its adoption – highlighting the challenge that awaits vendors working to build businesses around the widespread need for IoT security.

“The Internet of Things promises many benefits to end-users,” Fortinet vice president of marketing John Maddison said in a statement. “The ultimate winners of the IoT connected home will come down to those vendors who can provide a balance of security and privacy vis-à-vis price and functionality.”

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This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Read more: The cost of a security breach; it’s not just about the purse strings

Tags privacymobile devicesFortinetpersonal datasecurity breachesIoTInternet of Things (IoT)In-car connectivityTNS Australia

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