APAC consumers worried about security of IoT devices

APAC consumers have deep-seated concerns about the security of IoT devices (Image kimberrywood / iStockPhoto)

Internet users in Asia-Pacific want security and privacy guarantees for the internet of things (IoT) – the rapidly expanding network of devices, physical objects, services and applications that communicate over the Internet, according to the Internet Society’s 5th APAC survey on Policy Issues.

With IoT devices rapidly gaining traction in the region, the majority of respondents indicated they already own IoT devices and have plans to purchase more. Seven-in-ten respondents own at least one IoT device and close to half already own three or more devices. Furthermore, close to three-quarters of the respondents plan to purchase an IoT device in the next 12 months.

The most popular IoT devices were: Internet connected appliances like smart TVs and fridges, connected wearables, fitness monitors, voice command systems like Google Home, and virtual reality headsets.

Yet, despite the popularity of IoT devices, consumers express deep concern over device security, with two in three respondents saying that security is one of the key factors that would influence their decision to purchase an IoT device. The other top factors in the purchase decision include device features, pricing, and device brand.

Delving deeper into concerns over security it is clear that APAC consumers lack confidence in manufacturers, with the vast majority - nine out of ten - indicating they do not trust IoT manufacturers and service providers to secure their device. The majority of respondents (60%) who do not own an IoT device state they are unlikely to use an IoT device if there are no guarantees that the personal information collected will be fully protected.

The study also revealed that 81% of respondents were worried about their personal information being leaked, and 73% were worried that hackers may take control of their devices and used them to commit crimes. Seventy-two percent were  were worried about hackers gaining access to personal information, and 71% were worried about being monitored without their knowledge or consent.

Despite overwhelming concerns about security and privacy, consumers in APAC feel they do not have the ability to protect themselves or fail to do so.

Only half of those who own an IoT device have changed default passwords, and only a third have read the privacy and policy terms and conditions of their device. Notably, of those who did not change device passwords: 30% decided not to, 10% did not know how and close to 50% claimed their device did not have one.

Rajnesh Singh Regional Director of the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau at the Internet Society explains, “There is a need to ensure that manufacturers and suppliers of IoT products and services protect consumers and the privacy of their data. Currently, the measures that are in place do not match the degree of concern from current and future owners of IoT devices.”

Consumers in the region were clear that they would like for security and privacy protections to come as standard across all IoT devices, with 9 out of 10 stating as such. A similar number also wished for a security guarantee through a trust mark of certification label to be implemented.

Additional controls that consumers would like to see implemented include the option to delete personal data collected (84%), as well as to know what kinds of personal data the IoT device captures (84%), who can access this information (83%) how this information is used (77%) and where it is stored (72%).

The APAC Internet Policy Issues Survey polled nearly 1,000 Internet users across 22 Asia-Pacific economies on IoT security and privacy risks.

First published in Networks Asia

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