ISACA 2013 IT Risk/Reward Barometer survey shows consumers worried about internet-connected devices

6 November 2013

The 2013 IT Risk/Reward Barometer survey of 4,000 consumers from the US, UK, Mexico and India carried out by the information security ISACA trade body, which also polled 2,013 ISACA members from 110 countries this quarter, has shown that consumers are worried about their personal data. For instance, only 4% of the 1,000 UK consumers questioned as part of the survey said they trusted the makers of their mobile phone apps with their personal data. Conversely, 90% also admitted they don't always read privacy policies before downloading apps to their mobile internet-connected devices, highlighting a dichotomy.

The ISACA survey examines the connectivity and information security risk and rewards of key technology trends, including the co-called ‘Internet of Things’ (i.e. internet-connected devices from cameras, phones and cars to TVs) and other related issues such as ‘big data’ analysis and the security issues surrounding bring your own device (BYOD) to work security coverage.

The annual IT Risk/Reward Barometer is essentially a global indicator of trust in information. Carried out in September and October the full findings of the ISACA research can be seen here.

Key highlights include the survey of 2,013 ISACA members revealing that IT and infosec professionals are less concerned than consumers about the ‘Internet of Things’ (aka the web of internet-connected devices increasingly permeating our lives). The IT professionals polled from 110 countries emphasised instead the benefits of the Internet of Things with half (51%) saying their own institutions are planning to capitalise on it to drive their business growth, increase efficiency and customer satisfaction. Indeed, 31% said their enterprises had already benefited in some way from the increased access to information that ‘big data’ and the ‘Internet of Things’ provides.

Global Data / Security Trends and News Analysis
Getting global consumers to accept increased sharing of their information in order to obtain better customer service, more targeted marketing, convenient access and other benefits is likely to remain a challenge, while consumers are still wary of the trend as indicated by ISACA’s survey. This is the key challenge for corporations and technology companies over the coming years if the full power of these tech capabilities is to be realised - i.e. to get consumer acceptance and uptake.

While 86% of UK consumers expressed concerns about the Internet of Things, half of IT professionals (50%) believe that, for average consumers, the benefit of the Internet of Things outweighs the risk. However, they do not agree with consumers about what the greatest risk is. Consumers are most concerned about people hacking into their connected devices (24%), but IT professionals surveyed believe consumers should be most concerned about not knowing who has access to the information (44%) or how their information will be used (29%).

Commenting on the survey and the consumer attitudes it revels, Ramsés Gallego, international vice president of ISACA and a security strategist and evangelist at Dell Software for his day job, said: “As organisations embrace technologies whose success depends on collecting and sharing data, they need to proceed with the consumer at the forefront of their decisions. Clearly, consumers have mixed feelings about how connected devices are sharing information, so businesses need to establish policies and communicate them openly to preserve trust in information.”

“The rapid increase in connectivity, via the Internet of Things, is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, play and behave,” added Gallego. “What this survey clearly shows is the shift in perception about risk and privacy as the world becomes increasingly connected. Consumers need to understand the personal implications of allowing applications to access our personal data on mobile devices. We need to check the terms and conditions, not only for what they allow in the present, but also for what our permissions might grant them the ability to do in the future. There are many benefits to using apps, but we need to ask ourselves what level of risk we are willing to accept for the benefits they provide.”

This is sound advice but who really reads the terms and conditions before signing up to an app? Very few of us I fear. The debate about sharing data to obtain benefits Vs consumer fears over privacy and security will no doubt run for years and years - it will increasingly shape the business and technology landscape in which we live.

• For more about the interaction between consumer expectations and the phycology of technology acceptance please read bobsguide’s latest bobsguide blogger (aka contributing editor), the BT Futurologist, Dr Nicola Millard. You can also read the ISACA blog from Allan Boardman covering information security HERE.

By Neil Ainger

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