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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Internet of Things security needs the human touch

October 2023 by Nils Gerhardt, Chief Technology Officer for Utimaco

“This Cybersecurity Awareness Month what cybersecurity professionals and the organizations that they work for need to know is how their efforts are being perceived by the people directly impacted by them. In addition to our groundbreaking work providing the root of trust for thousands of organisations around the world, we also strive to understand the social dynamics of cybersecurity.”

“What we have found through our annual Circles of Trust survey is that there is a very high level of trust in financial services companies, but trust in Internet of Things (IoT) technology – both in terms of security and its ability to improve society – is typically much lower. These are two sectors, that although very different, directly impact consumers and newer ways of hacking are impacting both arenas. Worldwide, 64% of survey respondents had either absolute or some trust in financial institutions, while only 24% could define the term ‘Internet of Things’ and 57% are worried about the security of their home devices. While it is true that there have been hacks of smart devices, these are still rare, and criminals are far more likely to take funds directly from their victims through traditional scams and fraud. This means that there is an opportunity for the $320 billion dollar IoT industry to learn how to improve their own security from their peers in finance and banking.”

“We know from working with IoT that, while the industry isn’t without unique challenges, security is typically very high. The issue is not that IoT hardware and software developers aren’t creating secure systems, but that it is much more difficult for the users of these systems to see and feel these security systems in action. Compare this to the typical bank user’s experience of using a banking app, where they will have to log in with PINs or biometrics and confirm payments. Many IoT devices are designed to operate invisibly, at least when security is concerned – the network of sensors that enable smart cities or even something as simple as a smart light bulb conduct all of their security operations in the background.”

“Our message to IoT companies would be to foreground security in your work. Of course, invest in the very latest technology, something we at Utimaco can provide, but also educate your end-users about how they can know that they are protected. Cybersecurity Awareness means more than awareness of the threats in your domain – it means an awareness of how end-users are experiencing security.”

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