2020 Smart Home Risks and Solutions

by Parks Associates | Jun. 9, 2020

Home IoT Device Vulnerability

Many consumers are wary of the vulnerabilities that come with IoT devices and the potential for hackers to expose their sensitive data. This is true among the general public, and even more so among those already owning smart home devices.

At the end of 2019, nearly half of the segment Parks Associates classifies as the smart home disengaged (the 44% of broadband households not owning or intending to purchase any smart home device), cited data privacy and security concerns as a barrier to adoption. This marked a notable increase from the 25% of respondents citing data privacy and security concerns only 12 months prior.

Despite widespread concern among consumers surrounding data privacy, adoption of data security services remains lower than one might expect. This may be a result of a lack of understanding by the consumer as to how their devices function, lack of awareness from consumers about possible solutions, or an expectation that manufacturers are already addressing this problem with devices and additional protections aren’t necessary. At this point, data security services have yet to be adopted by the majority of consumers, leaving ample room for data security providers to work on ease-of-use, pricing, and marketing. As smart home devices move to mass market adoption, manufacturers, broadband service providers, and data security service providers must double their efforts to mitigate potential risks to consumers’ personal data without the expectation that the consumer should or will do it themselves.

Biggest Threat for Connected Devices

Parks Associates finds 40% of broadband households experience security/privacy-related problems with their connected devices annually. Among all IoT-related security breaches, malware tops the list. Other top breaches include man-in-the-middle attacks and brute force attacks. The more security/privacy-related problems a consumer experiences, the more likely they are to be “very concerned” about similar problems. An increasing problem is the suspicion that a data or device breach has happened but the user may not know for certain. Recently, 14% of software developers at the Black Hat USA conference reported that their IoT devices may have suffered an attack in the last year, but they didn’t know for sure.

Ways Consumers can Stay Protected

In addition to computing devices (computers, tablets and smartphones), nearly 40% of broadband homes report ownership of at least one smart home device that can be remotely accessed or monitored; 29% of households own at least one device from a list of specified smart home devices. The average number of connected devices per US broadband household has reached 11.4 at the end of 2019. Because most IoT devices do not have adequate processing, memory, or power to support endpoint security, networking security is increasingly important. In addition, technological advances in artificial intelligence and cloud managed services have become increasingly important. New technologies are enabling security solutions that are more robust, more cost effective for providers and consumers, and more easily administered. Network security that can bundle security for endpoints and IoT edge devices, online browsing and network traffic, mobile protection, and parental controls are at the leading edge of security technology. The most advanced applications of AI to consumer security include:

(1) Advanced device detection via behavioral analysis; (2) Assignment of devices to user profiles for increased personalization; (3) Behavioral analysis of net traffic for both reactive and proactive defense against malware, phishing, botnets and untrustworthy websites; (4) Advanced digital parenting tools that provide improved app usage information, textual analysis to detect cyberbullying, and content filtering.

Meanwhile, approximately one-half of smart home device owners find a service that protects against being monitored and controlled by unauthorized people “very” appealing. Similarly, just over 40% of computing and entertainment device owners find a service that protects their device from malicious viruses and software “very” appealing.

If you would like more information on smart home research data please contact us today.

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