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Study: 7 in 10 concerned about security of Internet-of-Things

The Internet-of-Things is a thing. If you haven’t heard about it yet, get ready because we’re in the early stages of an explosion of technology that will connect, monitor, and in some cases share almost every aspect of our lives. Fortinet conducted a survey of consumers to find out what people think about the security and privacy concerns of the Internet-of-Things.

The survey, titled “Internet of Things: Connected Home,” was produced in partnership with GMI, a division of Lightspeed Research. More than 1,800 consumers between the ages of 20 and 50 who claim to be tech savvy participated in the survey, which was administered in 11 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, China, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom.

The majority of those surveyed believe that a connected home—a home in which household appliances and home electronics are seamlessly connected to the Internet—is “extremely likely” to be a reality in the next five years. The actual number was 61 percent in the United States, and an overwhelming 84 percent in China.

Four out of 10 people indicated they’d be willing to pay more for a home that was optimized to take advantage of IoT technologies (nearly half if you include the “maybe” group). Half of those surveyed also said they’d be willing to pay more for better Internet service capable of smoothly handling an IoT connected home environment. Fewer than 20 percent of respondents from the United States stated they would absolutely not pay more for Internet service to accommodate IoT.

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Most of those surveyed are concerned about data breaches and protecting personal data gathered by connected devices.

Along with that confidence that the connected home is essentially a foregone conclusion, Fortinet also found significant concern about sensitive data being exposed as a result of IoT. Overall, 70 percent of the survey participants indicated that they are “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about data breaches or having sensitive personal information compromised.

A majority of respondents expressed fear over privacy and trust issues. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed in the United States agreed with the statement, “Privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used.”

When asked how they would feel if they discovered that an IoT connected home device was surreptitiously or anonymously gathering information about them and sharing it with others without their knowledge and consent, 67 percent of Americans answered, “Completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action.”

By a ratio of nearly 2-to-1, most of those surveyed feel that their government should regulate how data is collected, and what vendors are allowed or not allowed to do with it once it’s collected. The United States scored lower than most countries, however, with only one-third seeking government oversight of data—probably a reaction to the Snowden revelations that the NSA is already systemically gathering and arguably abusing personal data.

IDC projects that the Internet-of-Things (IoT) market will explode to $7.1 trillion over the next six years. John Maddison, vice president of marketing at Fortinet, proclaimed, “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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