Notable data breaches, ranging from the recent hack of Sony Pictures to the earlier hacks of celebrities' iCloud accounts that was sensationalized by Reddit users as "the fappening," have made headlines for more than a year now. And specialized vendors set to exhibit at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week believe that consumers are finally prioritizing cybersecurity and digital privacy as much as they do other features on their gizmos.
For instance, Missouri cybersecurity firm GoldKey has been providing corporations and governments around the world with protection against hackers for more than 14 years, but it will make its first big push for consumer business by exhibiting at CES and sponsoring the convention's first ever marketplace dedicated to cybersecurity. “People have seen all of these things that have happened and are very concerned about them, and I think they should be,” said Roger Billings, CEO of GoldKey.
In addition the new Cyber Security Marketplace, CES 2015 will feature the first ever Personal Privacy Marketplace. This year, CES will feature 82 exhibitors focused on privacy; there were so few privacy companies at last year's show that CES officials don't have comparison figures.
CES will also have several sessions dedicated to security and privacy, according Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the trade show. “For the last two years, there's been an increasing focus on privacy and security. Companies are responding to that, and they're creating new products and technologies,” Shapiro said. "It’s a new area of focus for this show.”
For years, security firms lingered on the periphery of the more glitzy, gadget-oriented consumer electronics industry, scolding from the sidelines: "Better protect your data." But in the wake of high-profile corporate and personal data hacks, consumers are rightfully worried that their increasingly connected lives make them vulnerable, and that concern is moving from computers to phones to cars to, well, everything.
“The idea that we've seen evidence that some of these guys can hack into a car and actually shut it off in the middle of a highway or play with the brakes -- all that is scaring me big time,” said Steve Brumer, a partner at 151 Advisors, a tech consulting firm. “So you’re going to find a fair amount of companies that are going to be focused in on security.”
For consumers, security is about to emerge as the latest must-have feature. “Now that we’ve finished the arms race on features, we can take more time to focus on things like security,” said Jefferson Wang, a senior partner at IBB Consulting. "To consumers, now what matters is 'Does it work?' 'Is it secure?'"Hackers are a nuisance to businesses and consumers, but all their cybercrime is paying off for security firms that were once bit players but are now having a moment. Cybersecurity is currently a $95.6 billion market, and it is expected to grow nearly 63 percent, to $155.74 billion, by 2019, according to MarketsandMarkets.
In addition to the Sony and iCloud breaches, hackers exploited and stole data from JPMorgan, Target, Home Depot, Snapchat, the U.S. Postal Service, the European Central Bank and eBay -- all since December 2013. Forty-three percent of companies reported security breaches in 2014, up from 33 percent a year prior, according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, which specializes in cybersecurity breaches. Concurrently, 26 percent of respondents said they’d taken a cybersecurity insurance policy this year, up from 10 percent in 2013.
Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security, said he believes companies across the tech industry are placing a higher priority on security as a result of all these attacks. Consumers are concerned about their privacy and data while enterprises are hoping to avoid the fate of the aforementioned companies.
“Every entity going forward -- whether or not you're building [Internet of Things] technology, handheld mobile devices, PCs, whatever -- you're going to factor security into that equation and demonstrate to consumers that the devices you're making have the best possible security they can have,” said Davis, adding that security has become a board-level discussion for many companies. “You don’t want to be the next headline.”
Adding to the interest in security and privacy is the rise of new technologies that will be on display at CES, ranging from drones to connected cars and homes as well as wearable devices. These technologies raise new questions about privacy and serve as new potential targets for hackers to exploit.
The demand for security and privacy is high, and companies are jumping into the market to fill that need, said Victor Cocchia, CEO of Vysk Communications, one of the companies exhibiting at the Personal Privacy Marketplace. Cocchia predicts that beyond CES, 2015 will be a big year for security and privacy companies. “People have taken notice. They realize that they need protection,” Cocchia said. "It's great that this is happening at CES, because it shows that there's a market out there for privacy products and security products.”