The Price of Privacy: How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth to You?

A recent study sponsored by Intel Security called “Internet of Things and the Smart Home” showed just how much people value their personal data. The study was conducted in July 2015 by Vanson Bourne and collected information from 9,000 consumers.

Everyone has their price, and in this survey of consumers in nine different countries, a majority of respondents indicated they might be willing to share their personal data collected from their smart home with companies in exchange for money. Notably, 70 percent agreed companies should give coupons and discounts to customers in return for data about device usage. That is somewhat depressing.

The Personal Data Disconnect

Here is the disconnect: 92 percent of those surveyed were very concerned about their smart home data being hacked by cybercriminals, even though many were looking forward to living in a smart home.

“Security has to be foundational to the Internet of Things, and when done right, it can be an enabler of IoT,” said Steve Grobman, the chief technology officer for Intel Security, in a statement.

That’s the problem: It is rarely done correctly. While the market for smarter home-based devices such as thermostats, security monitors and safety equipment is booming, few consumers have considered the information security aspects of these devices or what personal data they can collect.

Many of these devices have open IP ports or simple default administrative credentials that leave backdoors cybercriminals can easily exploit. Computerworld reported on an HP study that found 10 different IoT-connected home devices such as smart TVs, webcams and baby monitors are full of security vulnerabilities.

While none of the home IoT suppliers have been sued for a cyber break-in, it is only a matter of time. The potential for obtaining personal information from one of these vendors may not be that far behind, especially given how lax many are with cybersecurity.

Making matters worse is that there is a sizable gap between the real and imagined popularity of connected home devices, described in detail in the “Internet of Things and the Smart Home” report.

Securing Smart Buildings

Mashable is just one source that published a series of suggestions that potential home IoT vendors should consider. Some recommendations include:

  • Have clear statements about privacy policies that are easily accessible from your website’s home page.
  • Implement a process to regularly update firmware with the latest security patches and improvements.
  • Require customers to change default passwords upon installation and enforce stronger password policies.
  • Choose default settings that offer more data privacy protection.
  • Have as few open IP ports as necessary.

Obviously IoT isn’t going away, and its lure for more home-related devices is certainly strong. But the right level of information security should be baked into a vendor’s business model — and its products, too.

To learn more watch the on-demand webinar: Securing the Internet of Things

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David Strom

Security Evangelist

David is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, video blogger, and online communications professional who also advises numerous startup and well-established technology ventures. He began his career as an in-house IT analyst and has founded numerous technology print and online publications, such as editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine and as part of the launch team of PC Week's Connectivity section. David has written two books and spoken around the world at various conferences and been on national radio and television talking about network technologies. He continues to build websites and publish articles on a wide variety of technology topics geared towards networking, security, channel, PC enthusiasts, OEMs, and consumers. In addition to these activities, he consults to vendors and evaluates emerging technologies, products, strategies, and trends to help position and improve their technology products.