Enough is Enough. Our Privacy Matters.

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In 2018 there was a tiring pattern of an ever-increasing number of security breaches with larger and more significant consequences. While the media, policymakers, and electronics industry started talking about the security risks that come with a hyperconnected world, there was no real discussion on how we solve this growing problem and who bears the responsibility.

It’s time to say, enough is enough and realize that the only true answer to solving the security problem we face every day is a three-way partnership between government, industry, and consumers. Each must recognize that they have a role in addressing the security and privacy issues we deal with every day.

Let’s start with industry. IoT device manufacturers often have to be convinced that consumers and companies will care enough about security to pay attention to what is needed and make the investment. This holds true for highly-regulated industries, such as healthcare, which has suffered significant outages in the last few years due to insecure internet appliances.

According to a new survey commissioned by BlackBerry, approximately 80% of consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada do not trust their current Internet-connected devices to secure their data and privacy. Additionally, when asked about future purchases, respondents said they were more likely to choose a product or do business with a company that had a strong reputation for data security and privacy. And many expressed willingness to pay up to 20% more for security.

To help address this need, last week at CES 2019, BlackBerry announced BlackBerry Secure Feature Packs which gives IoT device manufacturers our trusted software and proven framework to securely build smart products – from health trackers to Alexa-enabled speakers – without having to develop the technology and deep cybersecurity expertise internally.

Ultimately, the industry needs to realize that security is not an added cost but a valuable differentiator that will not only give them what they want but also protect their company’s brand and reputation, which is undoubtedly much more expensive.

Next is government. There needs to be effective IoT security regulation. BlackBerry wants to work with policymakers to ensure things such as sensible passwords, labeling requirements, privacy protections, and appropriate disclosure are part of the equation, not just software updates.

Last but not least, consumers. Let’s face it, we all have direct responsibility and need to take an active role in our digital security and data privacy. Too often we prioritize convenience over common sense security tactics, such as not granting permission to every app we use so that we can quickly use it.

That being said, industry and government need to provide better education for consumers. For example, an organization that has been helping educate consumers for over a hundred years is Consumers Union through their magazine, Consumer Reports. BlackBerry recently met with the members of their team to discuss certain things they should look at when reviewing connected devices. It’s these critical first steps, such as outlining the correct way to build a safe and secure device, that will ultimately enable us to live securely in a hyperconnected world.

According to Alex Thurber, SVP and GM of Mobility Solutions, “2019 will be the year consumers will begin to vote with their wallets and seek out products that promise a higher level of security and data privacy. IoT device manufacturers can address security and privacy concerns head-on and stand out in the cluttered IoT space by bringing to market ultra-secure products that consumers, retailers, and enterprises want to buy and use.”

The problems are not impossible and can be solved. But we need to come together on common ground and have the resolve, both collectively and personally, to drive for and demand what is in our best interests.

Let’s make 2019 the year that the security trajectory finally changes in the right direction.

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