Assurant: Smart Home Hacking Risks Concern Consumers

January 9, 2017

Consumers are excited by the progression toward ‘connected living’ and the many ways connected technologies can improve their lives, according to a new study by Assurant, Inc. However, the study, unveiled today at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, also showed growing concerns about the risks that can accompany a connected lifestyle.

According to the 2017 Assurant study, “The Connected Future: Navigating Promise and Risk,” 68 percent of the 2,500 respondents said the benefits of connected technologies make their lives better in a variety of ways. Savings (28%), enjoyment (21%) and peace of mind (21%) were the three most cited benefits of web-connected home products. The study also found a correlation between happiness and a more connected lifestyle. People who have the highest average ownership of connected products have a 20 percent greater sense of wellbeing than people who have the least average ownership.

“Our survey clearly showed that most consumers believe connected technologies are improving their lives, especially when it comes to products that provide tangible value,” said Alan Colberg, president and CEO, Assurant. “However, for consumers to embrace connected lifestyles in a significant way, the consumer technology industry must address consumer fears about the vulnerabilities of being connected.”

Despite the benefits of a connected lifestyle, the survey indicated that 65 percent of respondents said they were either ‘terrified’ or ‘very concerned’ about identity theft. Similarly, 62 percent indicated similar concerns about cyber attacks. Privacy issues generated somewhat lower but still significant fear, with 42 percent ‘terrified’ or ‘very concerned’ about foreign government eavesdropping, and 40 percent with the same reaction about similar activities by the U.S. government.

Risk Awareness Influencing Buyer Behavior

Consumers are still learning about the risks of connected living. For example, 52 percent of respondents were not at all aware of the October 2016 cyber-attack blamed on internet-connected products including refrigerators and DVRs. When made aware of such news stories, nearly half (46 percent) said they would be ‘less likely’ to purchase connected products and devices.

“When it comes to connected technology, consumers want to get the most out of their products with the least anxiety,” said Keith Demmings, president of Global Lifestyle for Assurant. “It’s clear that consumers who are most comfortable with technology are much more likely to protect themselves and their purchases with additional coverage. In turn, they experience half the level of fear and frustration associated with a connected lifestyle.”

A strong majority (79%) of those polled said they were more likely to buy products that increase protection against privacy risks, with technophiles twice as likely to address this concern by buying extra protective services rather than abandoning their devices. According to Assurant, this helps explain why, across 21 internet-connected products, an average of 45.2 percent of respondents who are considering purchases of one or more products in 2017 indicated that either a 2-year extended warranty or an insurance policy covering theft, loss or damage increased their likelihood of buying.

Issued in January 2017, this survey polled 2,500 adult consumers in the U.S. who own a smartphone and have a wireless service. Select results can be viewed at: Assurant.com/CES17.

Source: Assurant, Inc.

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