The growth of the Internet of Things is relentless, with the number of connected devices now skyrocketing above the number of people on Earth.
Entire categories of devices connect to the internet that didn’t exist a few years ago – such as digital assistants like Alexa and Google Home – are now in almost one of four American homes.
New consumer research from F-Secure finds that smart TVs are the most popular consumer IoT device in the world. You can find them in 48% of homes in the United States, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany. (See the infographic below for breakdowns by country.)
In the U.S., adoption of smart TVs is at 46%, up from 30% in 2015. This isn’t surprising considering it’s difficult to find a TV that isn’t “smart” in many retail outlets.
The next most popular consumer IoT devices are gaming and music devices, 43% adoption in all 5 countries, TV streaming devices, 21%, connectivity enhancers, 17%, and fitness tracking devices, 14%.
The IoT revolution is actually the second of most our lifetimes, according to Mikko Hypponen, F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer. “The first one has already happened — the Internet revolution,” he wrote. “Every computer is already online.”
The survey finds massive adoption of Windows laptops and tablets, 78%, Android smartphones, 72%, and desktop PCs, 57%. This is what a mature revolution looks like.
“Next, we will see everything else go online. That’s the second revolution, the IoT revolution. It’s already begun. Eventually, if it uses electricity, it will go online. Everything will be ‘smart.’ And you know what that means… If something is ‘smart,’ it’s vulnerable.”
Law enforcement agrees. In 2018, both Interpol and the FBI issued warnings to consumers about the insecurity of so-called connected devices.
F-Secure’s international network of decoy “honeypot” servers used to track the latest cyber threats network continues to find that variations of Mirai are the most prevalent malware in circulation. Mirai targets IoT devices, including cameras and routers, and was used in 2016 to carry out one of the largest denial of service attacks against internet services in history.
But are consumers aware of these troubling signs?
F-Secure’s survey finds that people who are most likely to know about the potential privacy and security risks of connected devices are “early adopters” — the people most interested in the promises of the IoT.
Among early adopters, especially in the United States, enthusiasm about the IoT is overwhelming with 9 out of 10 saying that they’re excited about the technology.
As many as 74 percent of these consumers are looking to purchase new devices, but two thirds have delayed an IoT purchase because of privacy concerns.
The more you’ve been paying attention, the more likely it is that you know connecting a device to the world can also make it a target. The question is: Can consumers find a way to feel protected as they still have a choice about whether their homes will get connected?