In 2020 our homes have become offices, classrooms, gyms, and theatres. Sometimes all of these at once, and most of it relying on broadband. While we’ve already had plenty to worry about from the global pandemic, it’s inevitable many of us are also finding time to stress about online safety. 

Irdeto’s new international consumer survey found 46% feel we’re at increased risk of cyberattack with all this extra time online.

Fear versus risk versus action – the cybersecurity conundrum

The real surprise for me in the survey was the disconnect between fear and perceived risk. When asked what crime they were most likely to fall victim to, consumers put cybercrime top of the list. And yet 80% of respondents felt “very” or “somewhat” confident in keeping their household safe online. Some 44% were “far more concerned” about physical home security than cybersecurity.

So why aren’t consumers more concerned? The survey report puts it down to “the largely hidden nature of cybersecurity threats to the home network, especially in comparison with other more traditional security threats such as burglary, which are physical in nature and cause visible, tangible damage…Many seem to be living by the mantra that what you don’t know – and can’t see – hurt you.”

The real problem here is that consumers who don’t feel at cybersecurity risk aren’t going to take action to improve their protection. It’s all too clear that this is the case. The report highlights separate research on the shocking lack of security features in many home routers. So how can we change attitudes to drive change?

Don’t sweat the BIG stuff (if you can’t control it)

I wonder if many non-technical households simply see cybersecurity as such a massive, impossible challenge that they just avoid thinking about it? Have they accepted the advice of a million inspirational online quotes and stopped worrying about things they can’t control? It would explain why 60% of survey respondents worldwide said they wanted much more control over their home network.

The report provides fascinating insights into consumer concerns, from securing a growing number and range of devices from different manufacturers, to addressing the varying needs of adults and children.

“In all regions surveyed, the main pain point was lack of knowledge, around both identifying threats and knowing how to defend against attacks,” says the report. “If something is expensive and complex to implement, chances are many of us will simply learn to live without.” In other words, consumers know there’s risk, but they don’t know where to start tackling it, so they give up.

Broadband providers have a unique opportunity

For broadband service providers, these insights should be a huge wake-up call. With access to the router and, by extension, all the connected devices in the home, ISPs are uniquely placed to provide household-wide solutions.

Broadband service providers already have a relationship with their subscribers, who often trust them as what the report calls “gatekeepers of their home networks”. Now is the time to take these relationships “one step further, by becoming trusted providers of cybersecurity solutions”.

If the benefits in terms of increased customer loyalty aren’t already clear, perhaps the revenue possibilities will be. The survey results reveal just how much 80% of consumers are willing to pay for better cybersecurity in their homes.

Helping consumers get off the starting block

So where should broadband service providers start?

Connected home management solutions like Trusted Home can give exactly the “increased control” that 60% of consumers say they want: providing a true picture of their network health and offering advice and automatic tuning of in-home security settings.

We all know cybersecurity is a complex challenge, but those inspirational quotes also tell us that journeys of a thousand miles begin with a single step. ISPs can help their subscribers take that first step towards better cybersecurity for their connected homes.

Ronald Peters | Product Manager, Trusted Home