Smart Homes, Cybersecurity and Personal Data: What Consumers Care About

A new survey reveals consumers' attitudes regarding risks and rewards of smart-home technologies; industry insiders lay out a road map for safer, more consumer-friendly technologies.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Mar 31, 2016

Consumers are increasingly aware of the value of the personal data they share via smart-home devices and platforms, and are wary of the security robustness of those systems, according to a survey that Intel Security commissioned last summer.

In July 2015, Intel Security hired Vanson Bourne, an independent market research provider specializing in the technology sector, to interview 9,000 consumers—consisting of 2,500 from the United States, 1,000 from the United Kingdom, 1,000 from France, 1,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from India, 500 from Canada, 500 from Mexico and 500 from Australia—regarding topics related to smart-home technology.

GOJI Smart Lock (Image courtesy Creative Commons)
Most respondents felt that smart-home technology is on a path to ubiquity, with 77 percent saying that by 2025, it will be as widely used as smartphones are today.

However, 66 percent said they were very concerned about the security of their home being compromised by cybercriminals, while 92 percent said they are concerned about the security of their personal data that is collected and shared via smart-home platforms. Seventy-five percent of respondents worried about the prospects of relying on and managing passwords to secure their smart homes, and many said they would prefer using biometrics security methods instead. Fifty-four percent would prefer fingerprints, while voice recognition and eye scans were the top choice for 46 and 42 percent, respectively.

Dollars for Data
When dealing with a trusted vendor, 54 percent of the surveyed consumers would gladly provide personal or behavioral data in exchange for direct reimbursement, while 70 percent said they think companies should at least offer coupons and discounts to customers in return for data about device usage. Millennials were the demographic most open to exchanging personal data or data related to their behaviors, collected via smart-home devices.

A 2014 survey conducted by Acquity Group showed a similar trend among consumers' attitudes around personal data being collected by wearable devices and connected vehicles, although the Intel Security survey indicated that consumers might be even more willing to barter data collected in their homes. Forty percent of the 2,000 consumers whom Acquity Group surveyed in 2014 said they would share data with retailers or brands in exchange for discounts or value-added information.

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