A new survey reveals a large portion of Americans fear the hacking of their cars (61%) and home security cameras (also 61%).

Other findings from the Vormetric survey include:

  • 52% thought a virtual personal assistant such as Amazon Echo would be vulnerable to hacking
  • 45% were concerned about the potential to hack smartwatches
  • While medical IoT security has received much attention, medical monitors register with less than a quarter of respondents (20%) and tie with refrigerators (also 20%); these devices are followed by fitness trackers (18%), thermostats (14%) and lightbulbs (9%)

Low ratings for the risk of hacking for some of these devices may simply reflect lack of knowledge about how dangerous the information collected could be in the wrong hands, the survey said. A smart thermostat or lightbulb, for instance, can tell when people are at home – thereby opening up the possibility of theft when absent. A hacked medical monitoring device could become life threatening. In addition, any inadequately secured IoT device has the potential to compromise home computer systems through a home network connection, it noted. 

"Consumers don't seem to recognize the amount of sensitive data that these devices collect," said Tina Stewart, VP of marketing at Vormetric. "Consider fitness trackers. These generate a continuous stream of location and health data that can pinpoint where a person is at all times when wearing the device. There are already many cases in the courts where Fitbit data is being used to corroborate testimony and check on people's whereabouts. It's important that people take the time to investigate the data security of their IoT devices. After all, personal and financial health could be at stake."

Although still considered an emerging area, Americans are eagerly adopting IoT technologies. Almost half of the respondents polled are using internet-connected devices, with boomers (46%) lagging behind millennials (56%). The most popular devices already in use are:

  • Autos (24%)
  • Wearable fitness trackers (18%)
  • Home security cameras or similar devices (9%)
  • Thermostats (8%)
  • Lightbulbs (7%)
  • Smartwatches (7%)

"Given the exponential growth in the number and type of IoT devices, security should now be top of mind," said Peter Galvin, chief marketing officer of Thales e-Security. "From our experience, we've found that forward thinking companies are protecting themselves and their customers by ensuring that their IoT devices can be trusted, and access to the data generated controlled with encryption throughout its lifecycle – on the device, in transit as well as where stored and analyzed."