For the past several years, headlines have heralded the IoT as a game changer that will transform workplaces, optimize cities, and help individuals lead more efficient, healthier lives. And while this is very much true, it’s hard to deny the fact that the IoT also amplifies stress and anxiety by exposing individuals and organizations to additional risk. How we handle this tech-induced anxiety will, to a large degree, determine how successful the IoT boom is moving forward.
Tech, Fear, and Anxiety
If you find yourself scared of technology – or the repercussions of a life dependent on technology – you aren’t alone. It’s something that many people and businesses fear. Some of the fears are unfounded, while others have already come to fruition.
One of the most common fears has to do with internet devices being hacked. In fact, a recent study by Irdeto finds that two-thirds of adults across six countries are fearful about their smart devices being compromised by malicious hackers.
The sad truth is that these fears are legitimate. According to Gartner, there will be an estimated 8.38 billion internet-connected devices by the end of 2017 (a figure that’s grown by 31 percent since the prior year). By 2020, there could be as much as 20 billion devices – 12.8 billion used by consumers and 7.2 billion by businesses.
With so many devices on the market, hackers have billions of opportunities to compromise devices and gain access to private data.
“IoT hacks are as varied as they are terrifying,” tech blogger Alistair Charlton admits. “Earlier in 2017 it was revealed how pacemakers and defibrillators could be hacked, depleting their battery or administering incorrect shocks. In 2015 a team of researchers demonstrated how a Jeep could be remotely hijacked and driven off the road. Other IoT hacks have included vulnerable baby monitors, security cameras and even an internet-connected Barbie doll.”
These stories aren’t meant to fearmonger, but they do paint a picture of the sort of world we live in – a marketplace that’s increasingly characterized by cyber anxiety.
Pushing Worry to the Back Burner
Moving forward we, as a society, need to figure out solutions to mitigate cyber attacks, but also reduce anxiety over threats. The question is, how do we do it?
1. Consumers: Curb Dependence on Tech
It’s always nice having the latest, greatest device on the market, but there’s something to be said for waiting for the kinks to be worked out before pouncing on a new release. In fact, there’s a lot of value in moving in the opposite direction.
The more consumers curb their dependence on technology, the less of a need there is to be anxious about these cyber attacks. For example, instead of buying the latest iPhone, maybe you could get along with a safe, secure flip phone – like the Kyocera DuraXE, which is virtually impenetrable. Sure, it might not be the most advanced product on the market, but there’s something to be said for peace of mind.
2. Businesses: Prioritize Security
Quite simply, businesses need to do a better job of prioritizing security – especially on the BYOD front. When security is taken seriously and viewed as an enterprise-level issue – not a minor annoyance – resources can be efficiently pooled together for maximum impact.
3. Manufacturers: Instill Confidence
As consumer affairs expert Kevin Pratt explains, “It’s up to the makers of smart devices and applications to reassure consumers that they are not putting themselves at risk.” This is easier said than done, but don’t underestimate the role manufacturers play in instilling confidence in the marketplace.
Proactivity is the Answer
Nobody has the perfect solution to deal with the anxiety stemming from the growth of the IoT. It’s not something that can be dealt with in a capsule. However, one thing is clear: it’s going to take a proactive approach from consumers, businesses, and manufacturers. Are you doing your part?