Fortinet has released the results of a global survey that probed homeowners about key issues pertaining to the Internet of Things (IoT), dubbed "Connected Home" survey which was conducted by GMI, a division of Lightspeed Research.
The survey was independently administered in the following countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, UK and US.
The survey gives a global perspective about the Internet of Things, what security and privacy issues are in play, and what home owners are willing to do to enable it.
"The battle for the Internet of Things has just begun. According to industry research firm IDC, the IoT market is expected to hit $7.1 trillion by 2020," said Perry Hutton, Regional Director - Africa at Fortinet. "The ultimate winners of the IoT connected home will come down to those vendors who can provide a balance of security and privacy vis-à-vis price and functionality."
Completed in June 2014, the survey asked 1,801 tech-savvy homeowners questions relating to the Internet of Things as it pertains to the connected home. These were the top findings:
A majority (61%) of all respondents believe that the connected home (a home in which household appliances and home electronics are seamlessly connected to the Internet) is "extremely likely" to become a reality in the next five years. China led the world in this category with more than 84% affirming support. In South Africa, 60% said that the connected home is extremely likely to happen in the next five years.
A majority of all respondents voiced their concern that a connected appliance could result in a data breach or exposure of sensitive, personal information. Globally, 69% said that they were either "extremely concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about this issue. Almost 40% of South African respondents said that they were "extremely concerned" and 40% was "somewhat concerned."
When asked about the privacy of collected data, a majority of global respondents stated:
"Privacy is important to me, and I do not trust how this type of data may be used." India led the world with this response at 63%. Fifty eight percent in South Africa agreed with this statement.
Relating to privacy, respondents were also asked how they would feel if a connected home device was secretly or anonymously collecting information about them and sharing it with others.
Most (62%) answered "Completely violated and extremely angry to the point where I would take action." The strongest responses came from South Africa, Malaysia and the United States. Eighty three percent South Africans agreed with this statement.
When asked who should have access to the data collected by a connected home appliance, 66% stated that only they or those to whom they give permission should have this information. Almost 80% of those in South Africa wanted personal control over collected data. Additionally, 21% of South Africans felt that either the device manufacturer or their ISP should have access to the collected data.
Many respondents (42%) around the world stated that their government should regulate collected data, whereas 11% said that regulation should be enforced by an independent, non-government organisation. In South Africa only 25% agreed that the government should regulate collected data.
If a vulnerability was discovered in a connected home device, 48% of all surveyed agreed that the device manufacturer is responsible for updating/patching their device. However, nearly 31% responded with "as a homeowner, it is my responsibility to make sure that the device is up to date." Fifty three percent of South Africans put the responsibility on the device manufacturer.
A clear schism appears worldwide when homeowners were asked about how connected home devices should be secured. In nearly equal proportion were those who replied, "a home router should provide protection," versus those who said, "my Internet provider should provide protection." Twenty two percent of South Africans indicated that a home router should provide protection and 25% said that the internet provider should provide protection.
When asked, "would you be willing to pay for a new wireless router optimised for connected home devices," 40% responded with "definitely" and another 48% said "maybe." In a follow-on question, more than 50% said they would pay more for their Internet service in order to "enable connected devices to function" in their home. More than 15% South African homeowners indicated that they would not pay more for their Internet service and for a new wireless router.
Although homeowners report a willingness to pay more to enable their connected home, when asked what factors impact their buying decisions of connected home devices, the number one answer that was consistent in all countries was price, followed by features/functionality and then manufacturer brand.
"The Internet of Things promises many benefits to end-users, but also presents grave security and data privacy challenges," concludes Perry Hutton. "Crossing these hurdles will require clever application of various security technologies, including remote connection authentication, virtual private networks between end-users and their connected homes, malware and botnet protection, and application security - applied on premises, in the cloud and as an integrated solution by device manufacturers."