APAC consumers want IoT devices, but fear data leaks

Majority of consumers in Asia-Pacific already own at least one Internet of Things (IoT) device and plan to buy more, but 81 percent fear their personal data is being leaked and 71 percent worry about being monitored without their consent.

The majority of consumers in Asia-Pacific already own at least one Internet of Things (IoT) device and plan to buy more, but 81 percent do so with fears their personal data is being leaked and 71 percent worry about being monitored without their knowledge.

Seven in 10 respondents said they already had at least one IoT device and almost half said they had at least three, revealed the latest annual study by the Internet Society. Currently in its fifth iteration, the survey this year polled 1,000 online users in 22 markets across Asia-Pacific.

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Some 75 percent said they planned to buy an IoT device in the next 12 months, the study found, with smart TVs and fridges, connected wearables, fitness monitors, virtual reality headsets, and smart assistant devices such as Google Home amongst the most popular of such devices.

Data security, though, was a significant concern. Some 60 percent of respondents who did not currently own an IoT device citing the lack of certainty their personal data would be safeguarded as a reason for not owning one.

More telling, 90 percent across the board said they did not trust IoT manufacturers and service providers to secure their device, according to the survey. Two in three said security was a key factor that influenced their decision to buy an IoT device. Other factors included the device's features, pricing, and brand.

The study also revealed that 81 percent were concerned their personal data was being leaked, while 73 percent were anxious about hackers hijacking their devices and using these to commit crimes.

Another 72 percent were concerned hackers would access their personal data, while 71 percent feared being monitored without their knowledge.

Despite these concerns, however, only half who owned an IoT device actually changed their default passwords and a third had read the device's accompanying privacy terms and conditions.

Amongst those who did not change the default passwords, 30 percent chose not to while 10 percent did not know how to do so. Another 50 percent said their device did not have a password.

Nonetheless, 90 percent would like data security and privacy safeguards as a standard across all IoT devices as well as for a security guarantee--established through a trust mark or certification--to be implemented.

In addition, 84 percent wanted the option to delete personal information that was collected, while 84 percent wanted to know what kind of personal data the device collected. Another 83 percent stressed the need to know who could access the information, while 77 percent wanted information on how the data was used and 72 percent said they should know where their data was stored.

Rajnesh Singh, the Internet Society's Asia-Pacific director, said: "There is a need to ensure 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."

In a previous ZDNet interview, Singh urged the need for a limit on how much consumer data businesses should be allowed to collect and that this should not go beyond what was needed to facilitate the services they offered. He also suggested companies offered additional options in which consumers would agree to a certain subset of rules in exchange for limited access to their services or fewer features on their service platforms.