Wearable Tech World Feature Article
September 16, 2014

More Connection, More Problems: Higher Connectivity Comes With a Price

A quick look at the technology environment in which we all currently live suggests some critical points. Every day, it seems as though something new has emerged that can connect to something else, either to a separate device or the Internet outright. While that connectivity can yield some impressive benefits—glasses that show maps, headphones that track your heart rate—it can also lead to some rather scary circumstances. A new report from McAfee, meanwhile, shows both the promise and the peril of the increased connectivity we all see, and it truly is a mixed bag.

The report in question, released as part of Intel Security and titled “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America in 2025”, took a look at the thoughts and opinions of over 1,500 consumers, with a particular focus on trends in technology and the impact of same on lifestyle. There was certainly some good news to be had from the survey; almost 60 percent of surveyed individuals expect to have been to a house that speaks or reads to its occupants before that 2025 date arrives. A similar percentage believes that refrigerators will add food to a running grocery list for users to fill later. Fully 84 percent believe that mobile devices will operate home security systems.

Meanwhile, 77 percent of respondents believed a smart watch would be the most commonly used device in the next 11 years, and 70 percent believed that wearable devices in general would be highly popular. 72 percent believed kitchen devices that connected to the Internet or other device would be a regularly-purchased household item, and fully 60 percent expected that artificial intelligence or robotics would help with job tasks.

But while there are some clear benefits afoot, there are also likewise clear issues. 68 percent of surveyed users have active concerns about the state of cybersecurity in 2025, while 64 percent consider the biggest threats to be in terms of identity and monetary theft outright, as well as fraud. Indeed, as connection venues increase, respondents believed, so too does the number of potential means to be hacked. 77 percent of consumers believe that a hacker attack at the personal level was possible within the next 10 years, and 46 percent believe that cyberbullying could take place thanks to the explosion of social media.

Thus the picture becomes somewhat clearer; users are concerned about cybersecurity, and not without reason. After watching major stores like Target and The Home Depot taken down by hackers and personal data lost as a result, regular users wonder what hope can be had for personal systems that must be, almost by definition, less secure than those of major corporations. Worse is the consideration of what the new technology will be like; most haven't actually interacted with some of the devices that are expected to arrive, so there's likely a certain amount of trepidation on that front as well. It's hard to be comfortable about the security on a type of device that's never been seen before.

Some of the concern here is likely to prove valid, and some extra vigilance will help take care of that point. But some of it is likely concern over the new, and some basic interaction will help on that front. The future is a strange thing, always changing, and what we believe about it today isn't always what we believe tomorrow. Still, with security a top concern for most users, being ready on that front could pay substantial dividends.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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