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Fear of Getting Hacked Is Why People are Walking Away from the Internet of Things

Nine out of 10 people in the Asia-Pacific region don't trust IoT device manufacturers with their personal information, according to a new survey.
Image by Dwayne Bent via Flickr

By now, we should know two things about the digital era: one is that it's getting more difficult to live our daily lives without interacting with the internet, and the other is how easy it is for people to hack into our devices and steal our data.

So it's not surprising that a new survey shows we're highly skeptical of Internet of Things (IoT) devices—that is, devices that are wirelessly connected to a network and record our data and communicate with other devices. Think smartphones, coffee makers, Amazon Echo, Apple Watch, and more.


According to a new survey by The Internet Society, an American non-profit organization that advocates for the development of global internet use, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region is more concerned with privacy issues that comes with IoT devices than their pricing, features, and brands. Much of the growth of IoT devices is expected to come from this part of the world, yet the survey says that nine out of 10 respondents say they don't trust manufacturers and service providers to secure their device from potential data leak. It also shows that up 60 percent of 1,000 respondents from 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific region who don't already own IoT devices say they are unlikely to use one if there can't get a guarantee of the protection of their personal information.

Watch: This Is How Easy It Is To Get Hacked

IoT technology is known for its deeply flawed security system. For example, the artificial speaker Home and streaming device Chromecast from Google can reveal a user's physical location to an accuracy of 10 meters, according to security researcher Craig Young in a Wired article published in June. In the article, Young said that when he brought this finding to Google, the tech giant said it wasn't planning on fixing the bug.

Just this past July, Singapore was hit with its biggest data leak in history. As many as 1.5 million people under the country's healthcare system, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had their personal information stolen by hackers. Around this time last year, the hack of a dozen telcom providers led to the leak of data of virtually everyone in Malaysia. Considering the scale of these recent data leaks, who can blame consumers for their distrust in the technology?

“There is a need to ensure that manufacturers and suppliers of IoT products and services protect consumers and the privacy of their data," says Rajnesh Singh, the regional director of the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau at the Internet Society. "Currently, the measures that are in place do not match the degree of concern from current and future owners of IoT devices."