Consumer Study Reveals Insights About Cybersecurity At Home

On the eve of Election Day, understandable paranoia circulates about security of the voting system. But what about security at the home level? Unless you’re an ostrich with your head in the sand about the issue, you have at least given cybersecurity some consideration.

Last year I wrote an article about a company that is leveraging artificial intelligence in order to provide a more dynamic solution for home cybersecurity. The folks at CUJO have released a new report that is instructive.

For larger context, Reuters reported a year ago that Lloyd’s of London tried to quantify the potential cost of a cyberattack. The amount was estimated to be $53 billion, which is about equivalent to the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy in the 2012. The study was undertaken in the wake of the cyberattack emanating in Ukraine, which quickly spread across borders.

In their new report, CUJO points out that homeowners are drawn to the promise of connected devices making their lives more convenient. But dreams of a Jetsons-like existence come with a dark underbelly.

Currently, homeowners have multiple connected gadgets without a clear overview of the network. These devices are not secure by design, and they put their owners at risk. People are losing their personal information, money, and time – and insecure devices are to blame. Managing multiple devices is not user-friendly, and that interferes with getting the most out of the connected experience.

The CUJO team surveyed a sample of over 2600 respondents who currently own the CUJO AI internet security firewall. The survey was conducted in July and August 2018.

The survey was designed to discuss three key topics related to smart homes: device identification, AI (artificial intelligence) security and digital parenting tools.

Not surprisingly, as to the first topic respondents are most concerned about a loss of personal data and contact information (87.3%), unauthorized remote access to their devices (77.5%) and loss of financial data (74.6%).

On the second topic, a vast majority of respondents prefer to get full information about device vulnerability to threats. What those 83% want to do with that information is an intriguing issue.

As to the third topic, nearly half are blocking a specific website or application as part of their digital parenting strategy.

What are these connected devices under consideration? The average US home has 18 connected devices, with the top 10 as follows:

  1. Phones
  2. Computers
  3. Routers
  4. Tablets
  5. Streaming video devices
  6. Voice control devices
  7. Smart TVs
  8. Laptops
  9. Printers
  10. Gaming consoles

The findings can be distilled into the conclusion that people worry about the vulnerabilities smart home devices bring in to their homes. Recognizing the vulnerability is the first hurdle, and indeed more people are realizing they can’t ignore the issue. A head in the sand is not a solution. But once the realization hits home, people realize they need actionable information. An example is knowing if their antivirus software is out of date. They also want to get suggestions when it’s time to update their devices or change their router’s password. Another important topic is the overall health of the network and what can be done to improve it.

Parents have been grappling with connected devices in their kids’ hands for at least a generation. The pace of device adoption continues to accelerate, with an attendant increase in time spent thereon. An Ofcom report notes that 79 percent of 5-to-7-year-olds go online for nine hours a week. The number reaches a stunning 21 hours a week for 99 percent of 12-to-15-year-old teenagers. Eighty-one percent of 8-to-11-year-olds play games online for 10 hours a week. These are staggering figures. Executives in Silicon Valley have been in the news for drastically curtailing their kids’ use of such devices, a sobering scenario.

Solutions that allow parents to create profiles enable parents to better limit their kids’ access to content. Tools like schedules and filters can give parents a better sense of control.

CUJO believes that its proprietary hardware / software solution is the ideal way to leverage artificial intelligence to address the three areas of concern for consumers. Indeed, CUJO analyzes vast amounts of local network data and then uses proprietary machine learning algorithms to power the features.

Neither ostrich nor dodo are viable role models.



Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.