Trust and security fears could hold back the Internet of Things

A new survey looks at our concerns about the IoT and finds more people worry about allowing access to their iron than you might think.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Will security fears hold back the development of the Internet of Things?

Image: iStock

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) some of us are already eyeing everyday household devices with something approaching suspicion.

While it might seem to be a stretch to believe that humble devices like irons may be quietly tracking our every move or be used for some other underhand purpose, apparently six percent of us think it might - a figure rises to one in ten in France.

Home security is the IoT application about which consumers have the greatest concern at 30 percent - well ahead of connected cars (12 percent) or connected heating systems (6 percent): respondents were worried that the IoT might mean that others could open the doors to their house.

The figures come from a survey that was carried out by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), a trade body for the mobile industry: according to chairman Andrew Bud the IoT is an area that is becoming a real focus in users' minds.

Not surprisingly privacy - or the lack of it - is still a major concern for users. The effect of the IoT on security is a concern of 70 percent of US users and 69 percent of French users compared to a global average of 62 percent.

While around the world 54 percent of users say security as their first concern, UK users show they are the most worried about this at 67 percent.

Worldwide 52 percent of users believe that the providers of wearable devices should behave in a 'transparent' fashion but this rises to 61 percent of South African users and 65 percent of Chinese.

On another tack, the survey asked if users thought that the IoT was a threat. Some 21 percent of users - one in five - say it is.

But Bud believes the survey gives some valuable pointers for companies. "I think there are three key lessons for companies," said Bud. "When you access your customers' data there is a level of trust that the user gives you and there are three key things for companies to remember. Don't abuse it, don't lose it and be a good steward."

Bud believes that organisations are reluctant to look at the issue too carefully, that somehow, "it doesn't seem right to even talk about it". Industry should do the opposite, Bud believes and they should talk about it, "loudly, clearly and frankly".

It's not difficult but Bud believes that the industry needs to do it with some thought. "Screaming about it is helpful when the industry talks to itself but it is unhelpful when talking to the consumer." he says.

More on the Internet of Things

Editorial standards