Ensuring Data Safety in The Connected Home is Key to Gain Consumer Trust
Data security is one of the main concerns among smart tech consumers and one of the major barriers currently preventing mass market adoption of connected home technologies. This is not surprising: not only because initial wariness is the natural reaction for non-early adopters with all new and disruptive technologies, but because smart devices, due to their nature, often gather personal information from the most intimate and private place in the world: a person’s own home. It is not surprising, therefore, that consumers, especially those aged 30 to 49, worry about how their personal information is handled and are concerned that the data collected by connected devices may be stolen or even used against them.
Although some tend to avoid relating to these privacy issues, focusing only on the benefits of owning a connected home, while pushing data issues to the side, this is not in the best interests of our customers. For providers of connected home services, ensuring data protection by all means and with solid guarantees is essential to earn consumer trust. Also, they should be properly informed of how their information is handled and what they can do to further protect themselves, to help dispel their doubts and uncertainties. Giving users the confidence that security their personal information is as important and valuable to their service provider as it is to themselves is the only way to make them feel confident about purchasing and maintaining connected home products and establishing a lasting relationship between vendor and customer that will help the market take off.
From the service provider’s standpoint, there are two key pillars for security: end-to-end encryption and software updates. When speaking of connected home, information is always sensitive, so all data sent and received from within the home devices must be encrypted to prevent it from being stolen. As for regular software updates, since security is not a one-time-thing, keeping a system secured over time requires constant renovation to identify vulnerabilities, implement the latest security patches and keep the system safe and robust over time. For the sake of the system safety, it is very important to maintain all the devices updated at all times, and keep the process as simple, streamlined and automatic as possible.
Besides all that has been said to far, ensuring safety is not the sole responsibility of the service provider. Connected home users also have to cooperate to protect their personal data, and since the market is still young and still taking shape, we must help educate them in the best practices to make the most of smart technology without exposing themselves to any risk. It is important to raise awareness among users and teach them how to make their devices safe: for example, using a strong password for authentication, and changing it on a regular basis.
A relationship based in trust has to be established between the user and the service provider, who ought to cooperate with each other to ensure data privacy. This trust needs to be based on the foundations of transparency, education, communication and simplicity, and cannot be breached, no matter what, since said trust is the key for the success of smart technologies and the eventual mass market adoption of connected homes. As Jon Carter puts it in this article for IT ProPortal, if consumer trust is not gained, the industry “will be restricted in potential growth opportunities in a market that is only in its early stages.”
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