IoT, Consumerism and Privacy Concerns

By Matthew Reeve on 3rd July, 2020.

If you’re not familiar with the IoT, or Internet of Things, chances are you know some of the products it encompasses. In fact, you may use some of them every day!

The Internet of Things is a name given to the group of devices that have processing chips inserted into them so they’re able to collect and communicate data. Several years ago, when this technology started to take off, products with this feature were coined as ‘smart’.

Around the world, more and more devices and objects are becoming ‘smart’. According to Gartner, around 20.8 billion connected things are currently in use in 2020.

But as with anything with the ability to connect to the internet, there are concerns around security and privacy. This blog post will explore what we can expect from the IoT in the future of business and society, and some of the concerns it raises.

The IoT and Business

Today, the IoT is much more prevalent and influential than just smart televisions and fridges. Connected machines and objects are starting to handle greater responsibility, and are offering the potential for a ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

The most exciting and revolutionary aspect to IoT devices is that if they’re all interconnected and communicating, it’s possible to gather data, share information and make informed decisions and take automated action.

Within industrial environments this will completely change the way we operate, encouraging increased productivity and efficiency. In fact, experts now predict half of new businesses will be running on the IoT by the end of this year.

Rising levels of automation and IoT-enabled smart factories do put jobs in question, particularly those in manufacturing. This doesn’t necessarily mean less jobs, but employee roles will change, and new skills will be required to align with this new way of operating.

One interesting area to keep an eye on is the impact on countries with large manufacturing industries, such as China. Also, a shift in manufacturing to smart factories could enable companies to operate more affordably and flexibly in higher wage countries, sparking growth in markets that have become more service orientated.

Consumerism and Buyer Habits

It can be argued with IoT devices, that consumers are at risk of surrendering their privacy. As everyday objects become smart, it’s important to consider how much of our data is being collected on the way we live our lives, and what it’s being used for.

For example, if a smart fridge tracks our food consumption and observes what food we like, is it unethical for it to share this information with supermarkets or takeaways? Or is this considered functional and in our interest?

The majority of people don’t read the small print when buying a product, which for smart devices includes the privacy policy. There was widespread criticism of Samsung’s smart television policy after it was revealed it warned consumers not to discuss sensitive topics near the device. The backlash lead to Samsung editing their policies.

There’s definitely a call for transparency in regard to how IoT devices interact with us and share our information, however, it’s yet to be seen whether this will be industry self-regulation, or a government regulation will be required.

Security Concerns

The main risk of having all of our devices connected, both to the internet and each other, is that is creates a much larger attack surface for cyber criminals. The IoT industry is still in its infancy, meaning standardisation and regulation is still yet to be properly defined and adopted.

This means that although long established IoT devices, such as smart phones, have sufficient security protocols built in, a lot of other products are not as mature. In 2016, electronic toy company Vtech came under fire after a hack compromised 6.3 million children’s accounts, which included photos, videos and chat logs from their smart toys.

It’s also important to consider how one insecure device could affect the wider landscape. For example, if everything in our homes becomes ‘smart’ and interconnected, could one vulnerable device compromise everything else.

It will be very challenging to implement adequate levels of security across every IoT device in our lives, especially as more and more of our ‘things’ become ‘smart’. Network segmentation, device-to-device authentication and strong data encryption will likely play a big part in securing the IoT in our everyday lives in the future.

Whatever the industry brings us, it’s important we all consider what we want from these devices, and how much of our lives we can accept being monitored. Consumers will likely play a huge role in defining how this technology is used now, and in the future.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog post, or any of Secura’s cloud services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Image credit: naulicrea/

Matthew Reeve

Content Executive

Matthew is Secura's content specialist, producing gripping, emotionally complex, edge of your seat, cloud hosting articles and videos.

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