Security worries aren’t keeping people off the IoT

Connected Life

If you’re a typical consumer, you were just as likely to have bought a desktop PC as a Smart TV in the last year.

A new F-Secure survey of 8,800 people around the world found that 22 percent of respondents have purchased a TV capable of connecting to the web and a nearly identical amount had purchased a desktop computer.

Though they may not realize it, the millions of people bringing these TVs into their homes are joining the Internet of Things revolution, despite privacy and security worries. 70 percent of those surveyed said they are at least somewhat worried about these devices being hacked, and 69 percent said they have some fear of tracking through these devices by third parties.

These worries are justified and not just because of scares like the one from earlier this year when it was reported that Samsung Smart TVs were listening to their owners.

The word “smart” is excellent for marketing, as is “the cloud.” But our Mikko Hypponen has been traveling around the world explaining why these terms are willingly deceptive.

“…there is no cloud – it’s just other people’s computers – and there is no smart cars, smart phones, smart TVs, smart missiles – in this context,  smart just means exploitable,” wrote SC Magazine‘s Tony Morbin paraphrasing Mikko’s talk at IP Expo Europe.

Adoption of the IoT is now proceeding at a predictable pace given recent history. Despite privacy and security worries, people adopted smartphones faster than PCs as soon as the user interface was user-friendly enough. Smart TVs have already crossed the ease-of-use barrier and are reaching mass adoption,

What happens next on the IoT is when security and privacy concerns become much more significant.

“After entertainment, IoT adoption is focusing on quality of life products,”Mika Stahlberg, F-Secure Director of Strategic Threat Research, said. “Products like security cameras, smart locks, and smart cars all play significant roles in physical security. So online threats will take on a real-world element as more people start using these devices, and people are right to be concerned about this.”

In a way the greatest enemy of IoT security is the IoT’s success.

“Manufacturers are focusing on ease of use and are rushing to get their products to market, which is leading to a situation where you have a wide range of devices with limited functionality, but quite a few security vulnerabilities,” Mika said.

Many people are rushing to make their homes “smart” without thinking about how to make them secure — even as hacker groups like LizardSquad are already using IoT devices to build botnets.

“IoT devices will become increasingly popular targets for attacks precisely because people won’t think about protecting them.”

With PCs, it took consistent and increasingly dangerous attacks to wake people up to the need to secure their computers. But given the intimacy of our home, the potential risks and the widespread concerns, there’s ample reasons to hope we’ll be more proactive this time.

Here’s a look at what consumers are saying about the IoT as the revolution begins:

Internet of Things Privacy and Security, securing the IoT, IoT survey


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