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Utimaco research finds a low level of trust for IoT devices, citing work needed to communicate digital safety

August 2023 by Utimaco

Utimaco has released new consumer research that has found a low level of trust around Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This has highlighted the need for more education from industry into how smart devices are secured with the latest digital security solutions.

The new whitepaper, ’Circles of Trust 2023: Exploring Consumer Trust in the Digital Society’, takes a deep look at how consumers view trust in an increasingly digital world and builds off the success of last year’s research. The 2023 survey expanded the geographical scope from Germany, Spain and United Kingdom to include thousands of consumers from Mexico, USA and Singapore with a focus on attitudes towards use and security of the IoT technology and smart cities.

The research’s general reporting on digital security showed a marked difference between responses from countries with the highest and lowest GDP per capita and those in the center of the GDP per capita distribution. Put simply, the poorest and richest countries showed the most enthusiasm about digital technology in their lives and the least concern about security, though in the case of the US they also reported much higher levels of cybercrime than other countries.

IoT, or ’smart technology’, is expected to grow to $662 billion in 2023, encompassing a wide range of technologies from next-generation robotics systems in factories to smart light bulbs. The research found several serious stumbling blocks to widespread trust of IoT technology among consumers, the first and perhaps most significant of which was that only 24% believe that they’d be able to define the term ’Internet of Things’, indicating that this is term, though widely used in the industry for many years, has not found its way into the minds of consumers. On a country level, Singapore had the highest level of respondents who believed that they could define the term (33%) while the UK had the lowest (20%).

This pattern repeated when consumers were asked if they used IoT technology (26% globally said that they did), but interestingly when asked the same question using the term ’smart technology’ that number jumped to 38% (53% in Mexico). Also, when asked if they used specific IoT/Smart devices, the research found that the majority of those surveyed across all countries used at least one type of smart device: 61% owned a Smart TV and 52% used a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.

On the topic of Smart Cities, only a minority felt confident that they could define the term (31% globally, but 40% and 41% in Mexico and Singapore respectively), and general enthusiasm was quite muted. While only 12% of consumers saw no advantages to smart cities, the most popular smart city innovation, intelligent traffic control, only saw 47% global approval.

The report argues that these results point to a need to communicate better with the general public, and to secure IoT and smart city digital infrastructure with the latest generation of digital security solutions.

"We’re living in an increasingly digital world with more connected and smart devices that need to be secured," says Stefan Auerbach, CEO, Utimaco. "The results of our Circles of Trust whitepaper show that more work is needed to create trust and reassurance for consumers and their connected devices."

The latest edition of the ’Circles of Trust’ is released in the same year that Utimaco is celebrating its 40th year pioneering trusted cybersecurity and compliance solutions and services to customers across the globe.

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