IoT Roundup: New research on IoT security, Microsoft leans into IoT

Verizon sets up widely available narrow-band IoT service, while most Americans think IoT manufacturers should ensure their products protect personal information.

As with any technology whose use is expanding at such speed, it can be tough to track exactly what’s going on in the IoT world – everything from basic usage numbers to customer attitudes to more in-depth slices of the market is constantly changing. Fortunately, the month of May brought several new pieces of research to light, which should help provide at least a partial outline of what’s really happening in IoT.

Internet of things polls

Not all of the news is good. An IPSOS Mori poll performed on behalf of the Internet Society and Consumers International (respectively, an umbrella organization for open development and Internet use and a broad-based consumer advocacy group) found that, despite the skyrocketing numbers of smart devices in circulation around the world, more than half of users in large parts of the western world don’t trust those devices to safeguard their privacy.

While almost 70 percent of respondents owned connected devices, 55 percent said they didn’t feel their personal information was adequately protected by manufacturers. A further 28 percent said they had avoided using connected devices – smart home, fitness tracking and similar consumer gadgetry – primarily because they were concerned over privacy issues, and a whopping 85 percent of Americans agreed with the argument that manufacturers had a responsibility to produce devices that protected personal information.

Those concerns are understandable, according to data from the Ponemon Institute, a tech-research organization. Its survey of corporate risk and security personnel, released in early May, found that there have been few concerted efforts to limit exposure to IoT-based security threats, and that those threats are sharply on the rise when compared to past years, with the percentage of organizations that had experienced a data breach related to unsecured IoT devices rising from 15 percent in fiscal 2017 to 26 percent in fiscal 2019.

Beyond a lack of organizational wherewithal to address those threats, part of the problem in some verticals is technical. Security vendor Forescout said earlier this month that its research showed 40 percent of all healthcare IT environments had more than 20 different operating systems, and more than 30 percent had more than 100 – hardly an ideal situation for smooth patching and updating.

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