Study finds consumers want security assurances when buying smart devices

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In a new survey commissioned by UL Solutions, an expert in applied safety science, eight out of ten (81%) people in the UK said that how a manufacturer protects against cyber-attacks and privacy invasions is important when purchasing a smart home, fitness or medical device.

The study of consumer internet of things (IoT) buying habits suggests consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their connected smart devices and that security has now become just as important as other factors, such as brand value or word-of-mouth recommendations, when it comes to making a purchase.

One in two (58%) UK consumers intend to buy a smart home device like a connected light bulb or camera; slightly less than half (45%) expect to purchase a personal smart device such as a fitness or medical monitor; while 12% said that they intended to buy large, connected appliances in the next two years.

Cybersecurity and data privacy concerns appear to be becoming more influential in smart home and personal IoT device purchasing. The top smart device cybersecurity concerns are:

  • a cyber-attack to steal and sell personal data on the dark web (55%);
  • damage to the equipment and injury to a person and extorting money (51%);
  • government bodies stealing sensitive data (47%).

These concerns were ahead of health fears from electromagnetic waves emitted by devices (36%).

The survey found that two-thirds of consumers think that securing the device is very important (64%) and where a consumer has already purchased an IoT device for monitoring children or assisting a frail person, security factors were even more significant — 81% and 76%, respectively.

Seeking help in making the right purchase based on cybersecurity and safety considerations suggests a strong desire among consumers for independent assessment.

The survey found that 73% of UK consumers say whether a device has been independently tested is vital to their buying decision. This statistic is equivalent to considering recommendations from friends (74%). It is also similar to responses regarding “brands I know and trust” (72%), which is a more significant consideration than recommendations by a salesperson (39%).

Consumers said that they were broadly confident in their use of IoT devices, with two-thirds (66%) of customers saying they installed their smart home device themselves and of those (69%) said the installation was easy, while close to one in three consumers (31%) said it was difficult.

After their cost, the main areas for improvement with smart devices ranked as: being easier to install and configure (second), greater guarantees of privacy (third), and against failure or malfunction (fourth). 

“While the UK is a mature market for smart home and personal devices, consumers are looking for greater clarity and reassurance on product safety, cybersecurity and data privacy management,” said Maan Ghanma, director of Smart Solutions at UL Solutions. “This will likely increase as the U.K. government educates citizens about raising minimum device cybersecurity standards. We know that our customers take product safety seriously and are responding with initiatives to help ensure cybersecurity is integral to a variety of smart home and health devices.”


The study was conducted by the independent market research agency Doxa and surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 U.K. consumers.

To read the full report use the link below.