Back in July, we shared a blog featuring survey results of 1,000 UK consumers. The survey delved into their purchasing plans ahead of Amazon Prime Day, and gauged how many had digital assistants at the top of their shopping list. The survey also probed how security concerns, as well as knowledge of security management, play out in the consumer mind.

While Amazon Prime Day has since come and gone, those results – and the security best practices I shared – are again relevant in light of two of the biggest ‘retail holidays’ in existence: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

At the time we issued the survey, 49% of individuals who did not yet own a digital assistant planned to purchase one during Amazon Prime Day. The number one reason cited for those not planning to purchase was a concern over security, with 20% of those not planning to buy.

Digital Assistant Security during the Holiday Shopping Season

Over two thirds (68%) of people surveyed already used a digital assistant, with Siri (23%) and Amazon Alexa/Dot (21%) revealed as the most popular. A majority (84%) of digital assistants were connected to two or fewer devices and only 9% of those surveyed said they are aware of use in their workplace.

Six out of ten consumers (57%) maintained the default settings on their devices and fewer than 40% know how to personalize security settings at all.

The survey also unearthed that one third (31%) of consumers believe digital assistants only listen when a command is raised, another third (30%) are unsure and the final third (39%) believe the technologies listen at all times. Interestingly, less than a third of users (31%) ever used the mute function on their assistants.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday promising massive cost savings, there is the potential for digital assistants to fly off the shelves (or perhaps more likely, into electronic shopping carts). Before you snap up an Alexa, consider this:

  • Above all, take the time to really understand how these devices work, and the type of data they’re recording and saving
  • Get your desired level of security and privacy by personalizing your device security settings, and employing other security measures to complement them as necessary
  • Digital assistants should only be used in an environment where you are comfortable with the fact that they are listening to every single word that is said
  • Failsafe mechanisms must be in place to prevent the assistant from taking any actions you’d find objectionable. And the workplace – well that’s a whole new ballgame

*methodology: 1,000 employed UK residents aged 20-65 polled via