Ahead of the fevered Christmas shopping season, Entrust Security surveyed consumers in the U.S. and UK about their security perceptions related to connected devices and new technology and gauged their overall levels of trust in various industries – with a particular emphasis on the tech sector.

In the UK, 44% of consumers claim they are influenced by encryption and security features when purchasing new tech devices for Christmas. Furthermore, 50% express concern with the overall security of their connected devices. In the U.S., 53% claim they’re influenced by encryption and security features when making a Christmas buying decision, and 57% are concerned with the security of connected devices.

One might expect both numbers to be higher when considering consumer trust issues related to the technology industry. In the UK, only 28% of consumers trust tech companies to encrypt sensitive information. That number jumps a bit in the U.S. (36%) but still pales in comparison to industries such as financial services, with 55% of U.S. consumers and 49% of UK consumers trusting financial organizations to implement encryption.

When it comes to specific tech giants, UK consumers rank Google, Apple and Amazon as the most likely to use encryption to protect their users’ information (45%, 44% and 39% respectively) but are only trusted by 32% (Google), 27% (Apple) and 22% (Amazon) of respondents. The U.S. trends similarly with respect to encryption: Google, Apple, and Amazon are all ranked most likely to utilize the technology (52%, 50%, and 52%) and fare a bit better on the trust front. At 43%, Americans trust Google the most, followed by Amazon (38%) and Apple (37%).

Despite this lack of trust, 26% of UK consumers and 27% of U.S. consumers still plan on purchasing a connected device, such as Amazon Alexa, if the price is right. While the majority of consumers in both countries will use a mix of credit and debit cards to buy items both online and in-store, there are some seemingly anti-shopping outliers: 17% of U.S. consumers and 15% of UK consumers don’t intend to make any online Christmas purchases. A notable number of U.S. consumers (14%) and UK consumers (11%) also don’t intend to buy Christmas gifts in-store.

Regardless of whether you’re buying online, in-store, or eschewing Christmas shopping entirely, here are some tips for staying secure that apply year-round:

  • Before setting up a new device, review its privacy policy: Only 14% of UK consumers and 18% of U.S. consumers do this to ensure their device is secure, to understand where their data is stored, how it’s managed, etc. In 2020 more connected devices and migration of personal data to connected systems will mean an increased risk to confidential information.
  • Verify your connected device is running up-to-date software: ensuring your devices are fully updated is a simple but critical step. Only 29% of UK respondents and 30% of U.S. respondents report checking for software updates.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: Be wary of public networks, including free Wi-Fi hotspots, particularly those that aren’t password protected. In the UK, 37% avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks in an effort to keep their devices safe, and in the U.S. 36% steer clear of public Wi-Fi.
  • Avoid switching between or surfing to other sites while in the process of inputting bank details to do price comparisons. You wouldn’t leave your credit card with the cashier and then go shop for other goods. The same logic should apply to leaving your payment details open online and then surfing for other products. Web sites have a number of links for advertising or information links which in rare case can be used for malicious purposes.

Please visit our website to learn more about Entrust Security. You can also follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and find me on Twitter @pgalvin63