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Consumers ‘feeling vulnerable’ about smart home security, report says

Sep 30, 20153 mins
Internet of ThingsSecurity

Only 37% of respondents in a survey think they're adequately protected from connected-home device threats, a survey has found.

internet of things smart home
Credit: thinkstock

While half of consumers polled in a recent survey think that they are “adequately” protected from online threats on their computers, tablets, and smartphones, only 37% think the same protection is in place for their connected-home devices, such as IoT, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and thermostats.

DNS service provider Nominum commissioned the report from market researcher YouGov in July. Polling consisted of 1,106 consumers in the United States.

Less secure

“Consumers find their digital world expanding at an astounding pace with more and more Internet-connected ‘things,'” Nominum says of the report.

“Many feel less secure,” though.

Fifty-two percent of the respondents think that they “understand internet well enough to choose, install and maintain the right security tools for their own home.” So they make up a qualified sample of technology users, and are worth listening to.


Complicated security doesn’t help, the users say.

It’s “greater simplicity” that consumers want when it comes to their online security, Nominum said in a press release about the survey.

Nominum thinks that consumers are relaying that they want “uncomplicated security solutions from their Internet Service Provider (ISP).”

Eighty percent of the respondents who said that they don’t feel “adequately protected online” would rather have a simpler solution. In other words, complex security solutions are “not helping,” Nominum says.

Installing tools

Only 36% of the respondents admitted installing security tools to protect connected devices “beyond computers, tablets and cellphones.” So either consumers are unaware of them, don’t care, or, as Nominum suggests, find that the tools and processes for securing devices are too complicated.

Of those surveyed, 48% say they believe they understood the security tools their service providers offer, while 27% were unaware. Presumably, the survey’s authors mean “unaware of the offerings.”

Gateway passwords

Other numbers from the report include that 58% of consumers have either never changed their home gateway or router password, don’t know how, or haven’t changed it in more than a year. 

Another 22% have “never changed their home gateway password” at all. 

Internet Service Providers

Nominum says the ISP should supply the tools necessary for online protection. The onus shouldn’t be on the end user.

“ISPs have a great opportunity to deliver a better, safer online experience for everybody and every connected device in the home,” John Arledge, general manager of applications at Nominum, said in the press release.

“Consumers are looking for a straightforward, uncomplicated solution that keeps up with fast-moving online threats without burdening performance, or their user experience,” he says of lessons learned from the survey.


Nominum, within the press release, offers some advice to consumers, including the usual parental controls rhetoric, installing tools from ISPs, and changing the passwords on routers.

It also gives some advice that isn’t often seen in consumer tips:

“Research and familiarize yourself with all your connected devices. Understand devices and learn how to ensure software and firmware is being upgraded.”

Something we tech-oriented folk do intuitively, but not a bad idea to start communicating that those less proficient as the IoT begins to take hold.


Patrick Nelson was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Patrick Nelson and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.