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A new study examines consumer attitudes on the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), and finds that the threat of data loss, infection by malware, and unauthorized access are some of the leading concerns worldwide.

The study, titled Internet of Things: Connected Home, surveyed more than 1,800 “tech-savvy homeowners” on everything from the affordability of future “connected homes” to privacy and security issues, and found that the market is ripe for manufacturers and vendors positioned to take advantage.

“The battle for the Internet of Things has just begun. According to industry research firm IDC, the IoT market is expected to hit $7.1 trillion by 2020,” said Fortinet’s John Maddison. “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.”

Some key in the study findings include:

  • Homeowners are concerned about data breaches – A majority of all respondents voiced their concern that a connected appliance could result in a data breach or exposure of sensitive, personal information. Globally, 69 percent said that they were either “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about this issue. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. respondents said that they were “extremely concerned” or “somewhat concerned.”
  • Privacy and trust are concerns – When asked about the privacy of collected data, a majority of global respondents stated, “privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used.” India led the world with this response at 63 percent. Fifty-seven percent in the U.S. agreed with this statement.
  • Data privacy is an extremely sensitive issue – Relating to privacy, respondents were also asked how they would feel if a connected home device was secretly or anonymously collecting information about them and sharing it with others. Most (62 percent) answered “completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action.” The strongest responses came from South Africa, Malaysia and the United States. Sixty-seven percent of Americans also agreed with this statement.
  • Consumers look to their government for data regulation – Many respondents (42 percent) around the world stated that their government should regulate collected data, while 11 percent said that regulation should be enforced by an independent, non-government organization. The U.S. scored lower than most countries. Here, only 34 percent agreed that the government should regulate collected data.
  • Device manufacturers are mostly on the hook for security – If a vulnerability was discovered in a connected home device, 48 percent of all surveyed agreed that the device manufacturer is responsible for updating/patching their device. However, nearly 31 percent responded with “as a homeowner, it is my responsibility to make sure that the device is up to date.” Americans responded similarly with 49 percent putting the responsibility on the device manufacturer.

“The Internet of Things promises many benefits to end-users, but also presents grave security and data privacy challenges,” said Maddison.

“Crossing these hurdles will require clever application of various security technologies, including remote connection authentication, virtual private networks between end-users and their connected homes, malware and botnet protection, and application security − applied on premises, in the cloud and as an integrated solution by device manufacturers.”

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