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Families and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) – approaches and technologies to support home users' engagement with cyber security

This project aims to understand more about the type of digital devices that families in the UK have in their homes, how family members use them and how they learn about keeping them secure.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Dr Jason R.C. Nurse
Police region
South East
Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

The security of systems and data is an increasingly significant challenge that resonates with everyone from casual Internet users to nation states. While this problem has been studied from various perspectives in the past, one area that has received less focused attention is that of home users of digital technologies (hereafter, technologies), and the specific issues that they encounter as they attempt to use security within the range of new and evolving technologies (for example, smart devices).

The significance of this problem can be seen in cyber-attacks that exploit home users’ devices (for example, the Mirai botnet, which was used to target businesses), and a spate of research articles that highlight user concerns regarding cybercrime and their own ability to engage with security.

Families and IoT is a doctoral research project looking at the way that families manage the cyber security of their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT devices (such as Amazon’s Alexa, the Nest Thermostat or Ring doorbell) are typically marketed as bringing efficiency and automation into the home.

Less is explained about how to make sure the devices are set up in the most secure manner and how to manage multiple users of the device, particularly when there are children involved. This project aims to understand more about the type of devices that families in the UK have in their homes, how family members use them, how they learn about keeping them secure.

The PhD student leading this project is Sarah Turner. If you are interested in speaking further about this research or updates as to our progress, please visit our website.

Research methodology

The research methodology will draw on a range of qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather and analyse data from home technology users and other stakeholders, including those in policy, industry and government.

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