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In a world in which the growing use of connected devices such as smart watches and connected cars is occurring at the same time as massive data breaches making the headlines, a study from ISACA has found that consumers have conflicting attitudes about the benefits and risks of their various connected devices. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The '2014 IT Risk/Reward Barometer' showed that the majority of US consumers (94%) have heard about major retailer data breaches in the past year, and three-quarters say retailer data breaches have increased concerns about their personal data privacy during the same period.

The majority (61%) characterise the way they manage data privacy on connected devices they own as "Take-Charge" rather than "Reactive" (26%) or "Passive" (11%). Yet, despite knowing about retailer data breaches, fewer than half have changed an online password or PIN (45%), made fewer online purchases using mobile devices (15%), or shopped less frequently at one or more of the retailers that experienced a data breach (28%).

"An interesting conclusion from this study is the gap between people's concerns about protecting their data privacy and security versus the actions they take," said Robert Stroud, international president for ISACA. "Businesses need to address this gap by aggressively educating customers and employees about how they can help reduce the risk or minimize the impact of data breaches or hacks."

The risk caused by the obvious gap between knowledge and action has been amplified by the rapid spread of wearable technology and other connected devices in consumers' everyday life. About one quarter of consumers now own or regularly use smart TVs (32%) or connected cars (27%) and more than half of people's wish lists for the coming year include connected devices (58%).

Among top consumer concerns about the 'Internet of Things' (devices that connect with each other or to the Internet) are someone hacking into the device and doing something malicious (38%), not knowing how the information collected by the devices will be used (22%), and companies or organisations being able to track an individual's actions or whereabouts (12%).

But despite these privacy and security concerns, 'wearables' are entering the workplace. For example, 68% of employed Americans would consider using one or more connected wearable devices in their current workplace, according to the survey. And some 1 in 10 employed Americans would consider wearing smart glasses, such as Google Glass, in their current workplace. Despite this, nearly half of ISACA members in the US (45%) believe the risk of the Internet of Things outweighs the benefit for enterprise.

ISACA members in the US were evenly divided on whether the benefit of the Internet of Things outweighs the risk for individuals (38%) or the risk outweighs the benefit (37%), but 71% describe themselves as very concerned about the decreasing level of personal privacy.

"The Internet of Things is here, and following the holiday gift giving season, we are likely to see a surge in wearable technology devices in the workplace," concluded Clyde. "These devices can deliver great value but they can also bring great risk. Companies should take an 'embrace and educate' approach."