The law firm Taylor Wessing has conducted research related to the Internet of Things, regarding smart home appliances and electronics connected online. In carrying out the research, the law firm wanted to find out whether people are aware of the possibility for the misuse of and unauthorised access thereto, which can result in invasions of privacy, for example, via the monitoring of conversations at home or via a webcam. Of the total number of respondents, nearly 44% said that they were aware of the issue and had basic or even detailed information about it. Almost 34%, however, said that whilst they knew something about it, they had no information as to how to prevent such misuse and unauthorised access. Nearly 23% knew nothing about the problem.
Yes, I’m aware of that and have detailed information about it 11.5
Yes, I’m aware of that and have basic information about it 32
Yes, I’m aware it’s possible but have no information about it 33.8
No, I wasn’t aware of that. I’m hearing it for the first time 22.7
Karin Pomaizlová, a partner at Taylor Wessing Prague and a data protection expert, points out: "We literally live in the age of rocket technology, and few people realise that the right to privacy is unique, and the violation of it can never be fully healed. With new technologies, we also invite into our homes potential offenders from the area of cyber crime. It’s alarming that almost 57% of respondents do not pay close attention to their own protection. If we do not want to address the consequences of our technological irresponsibility, it would be good at least to make certain to change the factory-set passwords on our home appliances which communicate via wi-fi or Bluetooth, which are usually a combination of chronological numbers. Invasions of privacy can also have negative economic consequences, such as through the draining of money from current bank accounts, privacy breaches by spreading photos on social networks, or damage caused by the reprogramming of a home appliance."
Of interest were also respondents’ answers to the question as to whether the are concerned that, via household appliances and electronics connected to the Internet, strangers could monitor them, and without their knowledge or consent control their home appliances. Nearly 53% of respondents said they were unconcerned or that it only bothered them a little. Only 46% of respondents said they were rather concerned or deeply concerned. And less than 2% of respondents do not have an Internet connection at home.
I don’t have an Internet connection at home 2
I’m deeply concerned about this 22.1
I’m rather concerned about this 38.5
I’m a bit concerned about this 35.5
I’m not at all concerned about this 14.1
Despite the fact that 46% of respondents to the previous question said they were deeply concerned about the possibility of privacy violations, only 14% of the entire group of respondents have already themselves changed or had changed the default factory settings for their home appliances or electronics. Nearly 15% said they were aware of the potential hazards, but could not change the factory settings themselves or would definitely need a third party to do so. An alarming 61% of respondents are unconcerned or do not have such devices. Only 10% of the respondents are aware of the threat but do not plan to take any action.
Karin Pomaizlová recommends: "Just as today everyone locks the door to their homes, the same should be true for our technological devices. And as regards our protection, making at least a basic change of the passwords costs us nothing, and neither in the future should we underestimate its importance."
Yes, but I have left the settings in place. 0.8
Yes, and I have changed the settings 13.3
Yes, and I’m looking into changing the settings 2.1
Yes, but I don’t know how to change them 12.7
Yes, but I’m,not going to change the settings 10.2
No, and I’m not worried about it 26.6
No, and I don’t have any such devices 34.4
About the survey:
Of the 512 respondents to the survey conducted by STEM / MARK in 2017, 51% were men and 49% were women. Most respondents (40.8%) were aged 30-44, 33.2% were aged 15-29, 26% were aged 45-59. Approximately 17% had graduated from high school and university, 45% had graduated from high school only, and nearly 38% did not finish high school. All regions of the Czech Republic were represented in the survey. Most respondents (26%) were from Prague or Central Bohemia, 12.1% were from the South Moravian region, 11.7% from the Moravian-Silesian region, 7.2% from the Ústí region whilst all other regions were represented at between 4-6% of the total percentage, apart from the Karlovy Vary region (with 2.9%).