Despite many IoT devices lacking even basic security to protect user and data privacy, the number of IoT devices in every household has reached 9 in the UK.
It is alarming that the usage of IoT devices is increasing rapidly in the UK even though security concerns remain, says Bitdefender.
With changing needs and preferences, people in the UK are finding IoT devices highly suited to their needs and are not able to resist buying them even though they are aware of the fact that many of such devices are not secure enough to ensure their privacy.
According to a survey by Bitdefender, 54 per cent of smart device users in the UK are aware of the fact that their IoT devices can be infected with viruses and 49 per cent of them believe hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in such devices to steal sensitive user information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details.
However, despite such overwhelming concerns, seven out of every ten smart home device owners own at least one camera connected to the Internet. Aside from connected cameras which feature known vulnerabilities, hackers can also use cameras in smartphones, Windows laptops, and tablets to spy on users and take their pictures.
“Any internet-connected device that has a camera attached to it will likely have a microphone built-in as well, turning them into perfect spying tools if remotely controlled by hackers. If not properly secured, attackers will not only invade your privacy but also extort victims for financial gains," says Liviu Arsene, Senior E-Threat Analyst at Bitdefender.
The firm notes that vulnerable IoT devices can also be used as gateways by hackers to attack other network devices or even compromise the entire home network. It also reveals that as many as 7 out of every 10 smart TVs do not feature security solutions for their web-cameras. Basically, the security of almost all smart devices at your home is as strong as the weakest link.
It adds that if users are not sure about how secure their connected cameras or other web-camera-enabled devices are, they should physically cover camera lenses with tape or specially-designed webcam covers to ensure hackers cannot intrude into their privacy. However, hackers can also hack into microphones in various smart devices to eavesdrop on conversations.
The conversation around security concerns IoT devices has been gaining ground even as more and more such devices are entering the market. Back in July, Durham chief constable Mike Barton received the backing of many cyber security experts and citizens after he called for cyber security ratings to be displayed on all internet-connected devices so that people can purchase devices that will ensure their security and privacy.
“You’ve got a situation where we don’t know what the security is like in the devices we are buying in the internet of things. It’s just not reported. And yet that is the most significant component of what it is you are buying,” he said.
He added that now is the best time to introduce a cyber security rating system for IoT devices, since it will be difficult to introduce a rating system in ten years' time when billions of such devices will be in use. “I don’t want to look back and be accused of not actually waving a flag to say we should be doing more,” he said.
Besides the threat from hackers, citizens have also expressed concern over the fact that government agencies could be using data obtained from their smart devices to snoop on them. A survey of 1,000 UK citizens by Unisys revealed that 85 percent of them expressed serious concerns over hacking, viruses and security of online transactions.
The survey revealed that while citizens have embraced many new IoT devices and concepts, a lot of them are concerned over who can access their details and how they plan on using them. It revealed that while 79 percent Brits support using a button on their smartwatches to alert police to their location, only 41 percent support police being able to monitor their fitness tracker data at any moment to determine their location at a certain time.