UK public fears advance of internet-enabled devices amid security concerns

KPMG surveyed over 1,600 consumers across the UK to identify attitudes towards the ‘Internet of Things’ – the term used to describe devices which ‘speak’ to each other over the internet. It aimed to gauge their views around intrusiveness, security and the value of connected devices.

More than half (58 per cent) resent the idea that computers seem to run their lives ‘wherever I go’ and 70 per cent suggest that with the marketplace flooded by inter-connected devices, it’s too easy for things to go wrong. The survey goes on to reveal that UK consumers are hankering after a return to ‘simple’ technology. Many, for example, mainly want their phone only to make calls (54 per cent) and the majority think that more advanced Internet based products such as smart fridges which self-order food or cookers reminding owners about recipes weren’t seen as necessary.

Yet, respondents are quick to recognise that inter-connected devices can bring benefits, with 48 per cent welcoming the idea that smart meters can save energy and money.  Four in 10 also suggest that health monitors which issue warnings about impending illness are a good idea and 46 per cent want to use security systems to monitor their property whilst away from home.

Wil Rockall, a director in KPMG’s Cyber Security practice, says: ‘It is clear that consumers are struggling with a desire to use connected devices as a route towards an easier life, but they remain wary of the rise of the machine. They still support innovation, recognising that in the right environment having the latest technology is key – nearly 60 per cent acknowledge that technology makes us more effective at our job.’

Asked why they are cynical about the advance of the Internet of Things, respondents questioned how it’s possible to keep personal information private, with 56 per cent of those polled concerned about a “Big Brother” effect occurring as a result of these products, and the pace at which they are being produced and implemented. In a work environment, more than one third (36 per cent) suggested employers are monitoring their every action.

Mark Thompson, a senior manager in KPMG’s Cyber Security practice adds: ‘Security and privacy are high on the list of worries for the consumer with 62 per cent of believing that there is insufficient concern about it. The fact remains that where once an Englishman’s home was considered to be his castle the advent of the Internet of Things means that fortress walls can be breached more easily. There are also so many opportunities for the latest technologies to provide value and enhance our lives but we are failing to take advantage of them and we will continue in that vein until consumers can be convinced that always-connected devices are safe and worthwhile.’

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