Survey Results on Connected Home Security
Many people – 95 percent – don’t realize the extent to which their connected homes are under attack, as outlined in our xFi Advanced Security data. To gain a better understanding of consumer opinions and practices around connected-home security, Comcast commissioned Wakefield, a market research firm, to conduct a survey* of 1,000 nationally representative adults ages 18 and older in September 2020. The following pages show the results of that survey, and what it means to the connected-home future.
Understanding Security Threats
The survey initially sought to establish people’s level of knowledge about various types of cyber threats. There was a gap between people’s general awareness of threats, and their actual understanding of how those threats work. For example, 53% had heard of phishing, but only 28% believed they could confidently explain what phishing is. This gap was consistent across all categories, as can be seen in Figure 1.
Respondents also were not aware of the large volume of threats targeting their home networks.
Common Types of Cyber Attacks
Just what are bad actors trying to do to your connected home? Let’s take a look at the most common security incidents seen by xFi Advanced Security.
Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Cyber-Behavior
With some schools and offices closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not surprising that people are relying on their home Internet connection more than ever. 86% of respondents agreed they rely more on their Internet connection than before the pandemic.
With the pandemic causing home Internet connectivity to become more critical than ever for work and school – not to mention entertainment, ordering food and even virtual doctor visits – most survey respondents also became more concerned about cybersecurity.
Perception and Reality Are Not in Sync
The survey showed a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to cyber-safe behavior. A large majority (85%) of respondents indicated they are taking all the necessary security precautions needed to protect their home networks. And yet, a clear majority of respondents (64%) admitted to behaviors that open themselves up to attack. For example, reusing passwords enables attackers to gain access to multiple personal accounts with a single stolen password, and sharing passwords increases the likelihood they can be stolen in the first place.
Consumers Are Disconnected From Reality When It Comes to Cyber Threats
There was also a disconnect between respondent perception and reality about which of the devices in their home were most likely to give cyber criminals access to their home network. Earlier in this report, we showed the devices most often under attack, based on real-world data from xFi Advanced Security.
Our survey, however, shows people underestimate the risk associated with cameras, and networked-storage and streaming video devices.
And, the connected-home environment will continue to expand. Our Xfinity xFi users have an average of 12 devices per household and added on average two devices over the past year, but some high-end users have as many as 33 devices and added five since last year. This trend is echoed in our survey as 61% of respondents plan to buy at least one connected device during the upcoming holiday shopping season.
But, respondents may be overestimating the security these devices provide out of the box. Connected-home devices are not like PCs — you can’t run commercial off-the-shelf security software on them, and in many cases people forget about them after they’re installed. This makes them more vulnerable to potential compromise because firmware won’t be updated and, as “unattended” devices, people won’t notice if they’ve been compromised. And yet, 65% of respondents indicated that they feel confident that most connected home devices are protected from most cyberthreats.
The good news is, 93% indicated security is at least somewhat important to their purchasing decisions.
How Can Consumers Protect Themselves?
It’s not realistic for consumers to become cybersecurity experts — so it’s not surprising to see gaps between what people think they are facing with cybersecurity attacks, and what they are actually facing. And, there is also a general lack of understanding around how to secure the connected home. 53% of consumers indicated they either don’t know if their Internet service providers offer protection against cyberthreats, or that their providers don’t offer such protection.
The absence of awareness about potential solutions is a problem, because Internet service providers can help protect the connected home since their “gateway” is between the Internet and the home network. The next section takes a look at how xFi Advanced Security does exactly that for our customers using Xfinity xFi Gateways.
How Does xFi Advanced Security Protect WiFi Connected Devices in the Home?
* About the Survey
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older in September 2020, using an email invitation and an online survey. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.