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Companies Should Build Customer Trust In IoT Products, Says Study

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Consumers want to own Internet of Things (IoT) devices, but they are also deeply concerned about their security and privacy. Moreover, many of today’s IoT devices are rushed to market with little consideration for basic security and privacy protections, further heightening the risks that consumers face when using these devices, according to a recent study.

An initiative of the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau, the Internet Society Survey on Policy Issues in Asia-Pacific focuses on the security and privacy of IoT that promises convenience, efficiency and insight, but it has also made vast quantity of data available. The survey poll answered by 951 Internet users across 22 Asia-Pacific economies, examines how consumers in the region to perceive and deal with IoT security and privacy risks also seeks to identify the top Internet-related policy concerns in the region.

One of the key findings of the survey is that Asia-Pacific consumers already own IoT devices and plan to purchase more. Seven in ten respondents own at least one IoT device, and almost half of these respondents already own three or more IoT devices. Close to three-quarter of the respondents have plans to purchase an IoT device in the next 12 months. However, consumers want to own IoT devices, but they are also deeply concerned about their security and privacy. Over half of the respondents lack confidence that IoT devices are sufficiently secure, and a similar percentage feel that they do not have enough information on the security of their device. Nine in ten respondents do not fully trust IoT manufacturers and service providers to secure their device.

Also, consumers’ concerns about security and privacy do not match their ability to protect themselves. Despite grave concerns about IoT security and privacy, many respondents have not taken any measures to protect themselves from IoT threats. Only half of those who own at least one IoT device have changed the default password on all their IoT devices, and only one in three have read the privacy policy that came with the device. Although there may be increasing awareness around the need for IoT security and privacy, efforts also need to be made to empower consumers with choices, tools and capabilities to take control of their security and privacy.

Asia-Pacific consumers want to be informed and have more control over their security and privacy, the survey said adding that they highly value measures to protect against security and privacy threats, and believe that government should help ensure that these measures are in place.

Nine in ten respondents would like for security and privacy protections to come as a standard for all IoT devices, and a similar number indicate that they are likely to purchase IoT devices that have a security guarantee (through a trustmark or certification label). Moreover, over 70% of respondents would like to be given more control over the collection and use of their personal information. There is a need for policy, regulatory and technological interventions to ensure that manufacturers and suppliers of IoT products and services protect consumers and the privacy of their data. Three-quarter of the respondents believe that government plays a key role in this process.

Cybersecurity continues to be the top Internet policy concern in the Asia-Pacific region, finds the study. Respondents have continued to find roughly the same issues significant over the last four years: access, data protection, connectivity and privacy, along with cybersecurity. Concerns about IoT and child online protection have become more prominent this year, while cloud computing and e-commerce have dropped in importance.

These findings have important implications on IoT adoption and stress the need to build customer trust in IoT products and services right from the start. We are at a critical juncture when we need to take vital steps to protect users and their data, and at the same time, empower users to take control of their security and privacy. A collaborative approach involving government, industry and civil society will be key to ensuring that IoT consumers are safe, innovation can flourish, and we can all fully benefit from IoT and its applications.

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