Only 15% of British families use software to protect smart home devices
Only 15% of British families use software to protect smart home devices

Threats

Only 15% of British families use specialised software to secure smart home devices

Even though an average British family owns as many as five smart home devices, a very small percentage of users take active steps to secure such devices from hacking attacks, and a majority of those who do use anti-virus and anti-malware protections do so only to protect their desktop devices.

A new survey of over 2,000 parents across the UK carried out by Censuswide and commissioned by Open-Xchange has revealed that even though an average British family uses multiple smart home devices, including devices that track and monitor the activities of children, not much emphasis is placed by parents on the round-the-clock security of such devices. This, despite the fact that most people are aware of inherent security vulnerabilities in a majority of smart home devices.

Lack of concern about IoT device security

The survey revealed that while only 15 percent of parents in the UK use cyber-software or apps to control access and protect their smart home devices, 28 percent of them have no plans to strengthen security measures for their connected devices.

However, in the event of a cyber-attack of a data breach, 85 percent of parents would consider changing their internet provider and 78 percent would think about not investing in smart home devices anymore. However, what really drives the rampant adoption of vulnerable smart home devices is that 41 percent of people are either not very concerned or not concerned at all by the risk of a potential cyber-attack.

The findings of the survey indicate that even though a vast majority of Brits are aware of the utility and convenience offered by smart home devices, not many are completely aware of how their security and privacy could get impacted in case malicious actors succeed in gaining remote access to IoT devices installed in their homes.

Convenience, not cyber security, drives smart home devices' market

Last year, statistics published by digital security firm Gemalto revealed that the amount of money that IoT device manufacturers in the UK invested in device security was the second lowest globally, with just 9% of their resources committed towards cyber security. Thanks to such minimal investments in security, only 52% of all data captured on IoT devices were encrypted in the UK.

"It’s not always going to a tech guru installing; as this technology becomes more widely available, the average user needs to be able to order, receive, (pre)setup and forget as quickly as possible to make it desirable for the untechnical user to embrace.

"All of these features make the perfect recipe for disaster- one we have seen before, we will see again, and one which, worryingly, we will continue to see until security becomes a minimum standard for any internet connected device,' said Mark James, Security Specialist at ESET.

To secure smart home devices owned by British families from external threats and privacy intrusions, Open-Xchange announced the launch of a network-based security product named OX Product which, the firm claims, will help ISP's in meeting the challenge posed by the growing threat of cyber-attacks on connected home devices.

"Our aim is to help them let customers and parents stay in charge, by creating a profile for each family member and/or any device, and receive real-time notifications if malware is detected. Security features on smart devices are essentially non-existent, so it’s essential we treat them with the same level of caution that we do for our desktops, and ensure we help our ISP customers put parental controls in place to offer a meaningful and safe online experience," said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange.

"OX Protect is designed for internet service providers, specifically because they are ideally positioned to help combat online privacy and security concerns. With more than 70% of IoT devices vulnerable to attack, there is a massive opportunity for internet providers to update their offering, raise brand awareness and unlock new revenue streams by offering a truly secure online experience for all," said Neil Cook, Chief Security Architect at Open-Xchange.

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Jay Jay

Jay has been a technology reporter for almost a decade. When not writing about cybersecurity, he writes about mobile technology for the likes of Indian Express, TechRadar India and Android Headlines

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