In the UK, eight out of 10 technology users have heard of the Smart Home concept, while half use the term IoT. However, only 20 percent of smart home users realise that they live in one.
New research from Bitdefender discovered that on average these homes have at least 12 smart devices or accessories, many of which are vulnerable to compromise if they are not adequately protected. The study polled 2037 users from the UK, US, Romania, Australia, France and Germany.
One roadblock to large-scale IoT adoption is security. In the UK, only 35 percent of users are concerned that their personal information can be stolen or leaked through smart devices. A third (33 percent) of UK users put the possibility of device theft at the top of their list of concerns.
“More people need to realise that attackers are not targeting only the device. They look for an easy entry point into your home network, to see how they can break into other connected machines and steal any unsecured information passing through the network,” said Alexandru Balan, chief security researcher at Bitdefender.
Even though 47 percent of UK users have a unique password for each IoT device, 38 percent have never updated firmware or default software package.
More than half (56 percent) of UK users keep private photos and documents on personal laptops, the most popular way to store files. Hardware remains another favourite backup solution, with 46 percent of users keeping private files on USB storage or DVDs. Forty-one percent of UK users use cloud storage solutions to back up their data.
To enhance security on internet-ready devices, Bitdefender recommends that users:
Read privacy statements and any information regarding how data is processed, especially in regard to sharing personal information with third parties.
Change default passwords to unique, complex passwords that are not so easy to crack.
Stay up to date on the number of devices within the household and how they operate, their security stance, who uses them, if the software is updated regularly by the manufacturer and how often they get attacked.
“Cyber-criminals often infiltrate home and corporate networks through outdated software – so, whether it is a laptop or a smart device, security updates should be installed with the same diligence by users.
“Administering intelligent devices within the household is a full-time job that requires energy and a new set of skills that need to be learned. All in all, as more devices hit and are the market, we expect the level of awareness and proficiency in mastering IoT security to increase as well,” Balan concluded.
“The number of internet connected devices in homes has increased dramatically and will reach 2.5 billion devices by 2019 according to Gartner research,” said Ciprian Istrate, VP of consumer solutions at Bitdefender. “We believe it's high time to start thinking about protecting households not only from a physical integrity perspective, but also from a potential risk of virtual hijacking.”