‘Alexa — Is My Data Secure On Connected Devices?’

By 2020, there will be an estimated 26 billion Intelligence of Things (IoT)-connected devices active around the world. As the IoT market grows, however, developers and consumers alike are growing more vigilant to protect any potential weaknesses of devices that rely on constant connectivity.

While consumers are connecting with more IoT devices than ever, from the wearable IoT fitness band to the connected smart oven to the voice-activated smart speaker, this oversaturation is also creating more opportunities for fraudsters. IoT devices are typically protected by passwords and PINs, proven to be less effective than biometric identification. This makes the devices easier prey for fraudsters.

That said, IoT device creators and consumers are looking at IoT security with a higher level of scrutiny. In the February Intelligence of Things Tracker, PYMNTS examines how countries, developers and consumers are responding to increased calls for security, as well as how the IoT market is growing worldwide.

Around the IoT World

As a way to head off potential cybersecurity problems, several countries are looking to find and fix flaws in consumer devices before it’s too late. Japan, for instance, has developed an innovative plan to hack 200 million IoT devices owned by its citizens, beginning this month. By attempting to log in to randomly selected devices and securing them, the country hopes to eradicate the weaknesses that could potentially lead to fraud and identity theft for IoT users.

Meanwhile, IoT use cases are growing around the world as businesses and consumers become more comfortable with the technology. The city of Dubai will be hosting the first-ever IoT lighting conference in the Middle East, inviting panelists, professionals and engineers to view and develop IoT lighting uses for the region. The conference is a sign that many countries are now viewing IoT as a crucial technology to the future development of the so-called “smart city,” which will rely on a flow of data and information between residents and the government for improved living.

Countries such as South Africa are looking to build out more infrastructure for the IoT, as consumer use in the region grows. Several networks in the country are expanding their IoT coverage, as well as adding new use cases like “water metering,” which could aid in the development of the smart city.

Alias Creators on Security, GDPR and Data as the New Oil

However, concerns about device security are having a profound effect on the way consumers interact with IoT devices like smart speakers, especially as recent regulations like GDPR bring new data transparency to businesses and consumers. For customers to truly trust the IoT, and for the market to fully expand, customers need to feel a semblance of control over which IoT devices collect their data and when, according to Tore Knudsen and Bjørn Karmann, creators of the IoT privacy device Project Alias.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Knudsen and Karmann discussed the need for a conversation surrounding IoT security and consumer privacy, especially as IoT devices become more affordable and freely available to consumers around the world.

“It’s a very important question to raise right now as IoT products are expanding. … We are putting a lot of sensors and devices into our homes that know a lot about us. A microphone in your home that is turned on is a pretty bold thing to do,” Knudsen said.

To read more about Project Alias and IoT device security, take a look at our feature story.

About the Tracker

The Intelligence of Things Tracker showcases companies that are leading the way in all aspects of the Intelligence of Things. Every month, the Tracker looks at what these companies are doing across the ecosystem and in several categories, including Personal, Home, Retail, Transportation, Wearable, Mobile, Infrastructure, Data and more.