People are really worried about IoT data privacy and security—and they should be

A new study from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that consumers around the world are deeply worried about in how their personal information is collected and shared by the Internet of Things (IoT). But let’s be honest, the problem isn’t that unsophisticated consumers are panicking for no reason. In fact, consumers are merely picking up on the very real inherent risks and uncertainties surrounding IoT data.

Businesses are also worried about IoT security

I’ll get into the results and implications of the survey in a moment, but first I want to note that business and professionals are equally concerned. Perhaps that’s why Gartner just predicted that IoT security spending will hit $1.5 billion by the end of the year, up 28 percent from 2017, and more than double to $3.1 billion by 2021.

Among other things, all those dollars are intended to help prevent the “catastrophic” effects of a data breach or cyber attack on IoT devices. That may sound hyperbolic, but according to the recent Second Annual Study on the Internet of Things (IoT): A New Era of Third-Party Risk from the Ponemon Institute and Shared Assessments, that’s what 97 percent of surveyed risk professionals feared would be the result of an attack on unsecured IoT devices. More than half (60 percent) saw IoT vulnerabilities to ransomware attacks.

A correct perception of reality

When it comes to an new technology like the IoT, of course, perception can matter just as much as reality. And that’s why the Economist report — What the Internet of Things means for consumer privacy — is such a red flag for companies that make and use IoT devices and networks.