In December, ExpressVPN released a survey that shows that Amazon Alexa devices will be the most popular buys this holiday season.
According to the survey, nearly half of the American population will have smart home devices or speakers in their holiday shopping carts. Which device consumers preferred was contingent on brand trust.
Facebook was particularly worrisome for Americans. The majority of survey respondents (85%) said that the company’s potential to invade their privacy would impact their purchase decisions. About two out of five people (38%) said that they were afraid that Facebook would listen in on their conversations and target them with ads. Nearly half of the respondents said that Facebook was the least trusted brand among Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, and Nest.
Related: Amazon Making First Alexa Earbuds
Amazon was the most trustworthy out of the bunch with 66% respondents saying they already have or are planning on purchasing Amazon products this year.
Despite popularity of smart devices, people are still worried about their personal security
While the majority of the consumers in this survey plan on buying Amazon Alexa, they are still concerned about protecting their personal information.
About 66% of the American population are worried that smart speakers and personal assistants are susceptible to hackers or companies looking to profit off of personal data. Some people said that if they ever found their device was monitoring conversations, they would throw their device away.
Tossing a Google Home into the trash may seem extreme, but ExpressVPN vice president, Harold Li, says that consumers have a right to be worried.
“One in five U.S. households have an internet-connected device with a microphone or camera, and millions more will be joining them this holiday season,” Li said in a press release. “No doubt tech and advertising giants are salivating over the potential data mining opportunity, and hackers are highly motivated to find security vulnerabilities.”
What consumers can do to protect their privacy
To prevent any security breaches, smart device users can take additional measures to create more peace of mind.
For example, consumers can:
- Disconnect their device while they are not using it — or at least turn off the camera and the mic.
- Cover up the camera when it’s not in use.
- Know their privacy policies and terms of service and opt out of potentially intrusive features.
- Connect their device using an encrypted VPN service.
- Connect their device with an Ethernet cord rather than using Wi-Fi. (Ethernet connections are harder to hack.)
- Consistently install software updates.
Despite all of the security concerns, smart home devices are not going anywhere anytime soon. Recent studies show that the smart home market is growing rapidly. This year’s holiday shoppers are certainly a part of that boom, but ExpressVPN has shown that these consumers are vigilant, too.