Are consumers aware of the security dangers of WiFi-connected smart devices?

Guy Daniels
By Guy Daniels

Jul 28, 2017

© Irdeto, TTV

© Irdeto, TTV

  • Global IoT security survey by Irdeto on awareness of smart device cyberattacks
  • 78 per cent of consumers appear to be aware of the threats
  • 90 per cent think security should be built into connected devices
  • Discrepancies over who is responsible for device security: users or vendors?

Digital security company Irdeto has published the results of a consumer IoT survey, as it promotes its Cloakware for IoT Security service. The company says that IoT security is “top-of-mind” for consumers across the globe, finding that 90 per cent of those polled from six different countries (Brazil, China, Germany, India, UK and US) believe it is important that a connected device has security built into the product. Additionally, 78 per cent of these 7,882 consumers surveyed indicated they are aware that any smart device connected to their home WiFi has the potential to be targeted by a hacker, resulting in the potential theft of their personal data.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey also found that awareness of cyber threats targeting connected devices actually increases with age. Of all consumers surveyed online, 72 per cent of so-called millennials (i.e. 18-24 years old) indicated awareness that WiFi-connected smart devices have the potential to be targeted by a hacker, compared to 82 per cent of consumers aged 55 or over. It’s a slim difference, admittedly, and the claim that this could “potentially leave this younger generation more open to a cyberattack” is a bit of a stretch.

Shared responsibility

What is revealing, though – especially in this age where it appears that “it’s always someone else’s fault, never mine” and the ease of starting legal action to sue for damages – is the findings that both consumers and manufacturers are responsible for implementing security. 56 per cent of surveyed consumers think that it is the responsibility of both the end-user and the manufacturer of the product to prevent hacking of smart devices, compared to 20 per cent who would place the blame on manufacturers (although this rises to 31 per cent in China).

“While consumers across the globe believe that IoT devices need to have security manufactured into the product in order to prevent against cyberattacks, it’s encouraging that they also recognize the important role they play in IoT security,” said Mark Hearn, Director of IoT Security at Irdeto. “On the device manufacturer side, there must be a better “defense-in-depth” approach to cybersecurity that integrates multiple layers of security into a system. This approach, combined with ongoing security updates to protect against the latest threats, is critical to mitigate attacks targeting IoT technologies.”

While many consumers appear to be aware of cyber threats against connected devices and the importance of building security into these devices, some countries are less concerned about their devices actually being hacked. Germans expressed the least concern with 42 per cent stating that they are unconcerned, compared to 88 per cent of Brazilians who are concerned.

“As the number of connected devices in homes and businesses grows, hackers will increasingly look for easily exploitable vulnerabilities that exist in smart devices,” said Jaco Du Plooy, VP of Cloakware at Irdeto. “As a result, it is important to disrupt a hacker’s business model by making it difficult to reverse engineer software and leverage code vulnerabilities, thus making it less cost-effective to execute an attack. By enhancing security strategies to disrupt a hacker’s business model, manufacturers are better able to defend against cyberattacks targeting IoT technologies to protect consumers, their brand reputation and revenue.”

You can view the entire survey here (in exchange for your email address).

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.