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Consumers Aware of IoT’s Potential and Security Challenges

Consumers Aware of IoT’s Potential and Security Challenges

On October 27, 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC) released results to a public opinion poll about consumers’ perceptions of IoT.  The Chamber commissioned the poll to better understand the public’s view of IoT following the recent cyber attack caused by a botnet that specifically targeted IoT devices.  [When IoT DDOS’s Itself And What Congress Can Do About It and DDoS Attack Focuses Attention Of Congress And Feds On IoT Security].  Overall, the poll results show that consumers are optimistic about IoT, despite growing security challenges. 

While most consumers are not knowledgeable of the root cause of the malware attack, consumers are aware of IoT and internet connected devices.  In fact, the poll shows that consumers’ awareness of IoT is significantly higher in comparison to their awareness of other forms of technology.  According to the poll, many consumers currently own or are planning to own an IoT device in the near future.  Young adults find it important to have devices connected to the internet.  Half of the consumers polled who are between the ages of 18 and 44 own at least one IoT device.  Moreover, thirty-two percent of consumers polled are likely to purchase an IoT device in the next year. 

Consumers’ knowledge and familiarity with IoT and internet connected devices may relate to increasing security concerns.  After learning of the malware attack, fifty percent of the poll’s participants now believe that IoT devices are unsecure.  The poll results show that a majority of consumers rely on companies and manufacturers of IoT devices to detect threats and safeguard their IoT devices against malicious activity.  The implications of this sort of finding for allocation of responsibility and liability are uncertain.

Nonetheless, the poll results show that consumers believe that IoT and internet connected devices will have a positive effect on society.  According to the Chamber’s poll results, the majority of consumers find that internet connected devices will be an important component of entertainment, agriculture, and energy resources for homes.  Importantly, most consumers believe that IoT and internet connected devices will contribute to their overall health and well-being.  Most consumers find that medical devices, such as those monitoring heart rate, connected vehicles, which can prevent car accidents, and wearable devices, like those that monitor physical activity and wellness, are significant technological developments.

The Chamber of Commerce is helping to inform the discussion around IoT occurring in numerous agencies, including by filing comments with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration.  As agencies like the Department of Homeland Security examine IoT issues, it is clear that IoT will continue to be a part of the ongoing conversation regarding cybersecurity.

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