Consumers want smart home devices to be independently assessed

Rising energy prices and the do-it-yourself boom: the use of smart home technology is growing strongly. The TÜV Association gives advice on how to protect against cyber-attacks.

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Berlin, 7. Februar 2023 – The use of smart home technology for more efficient energy consumption, more comfort or greater security has increased significantly: Currently, almost one in five German citizens uses internet-connected devices to control their heating or networked thermostats (18 percent). That is 7 percentage points more than two years ago. 17 percent use intelligent lamps or light sources that can be controlled with a smartphone, for example (plus 6 percent). And 16 percent use smart sockets with which many analogue electrical appliances can be controlled (plus 4 points). This was the result of a representative Forsa survey commissioned by the TÜV Association among 1,002 people aged 16 and over. "Rising energy prices and the do-it-yourself boom during the covid period have finally helped smart home devices to break through," said Marc Fliehe, Head of Digital and Cybersecurity of the TÜV Association, on the occasion of the German "Safer Internet Day 2023". "However, the smart home boom is accompanied by considerable security concerns among consumers." According to the survey, four out of five respondents are unclear whether or how well smart devices are protected against cyber attacks (80 percent). Almost two-thirds are afraid that the devices or the services connected to them will violate data protection (65 percent). And one in three has already refrained from buying smart devices out of concern about cyber attacks (34 percent). Fliehe: "Users should take the best possible care of cyber security in the smart home. For this, better orientation is urgently needed already at the time of purchase in order to be able to make a good and safe purchase decision." For the vast majority of all respondents, it is important or very important that the cyber security of smart home devices is assessed by independent bodies and that the products are labelled accordingly.

According to the results of the survey, smart devices whose use is intended to improve the security of one's own four walls are also on the rise. 9 percent of German citizens use video cameras as individual components, an increase of 3 percent compared to 2021. 8 percent use networked smoke detectors and 7 percent smart motion detectors or window or door sensors. Only 3 percent use smart door locks. The proportion also depends on whether the users own their own home or rent. Thus, 13 percent of owners of a house or flat have video surveillance, but only 5 percent of renters. 10 percent of homeowners use motion detectors and 4 percent of renters. "Like all smart home devices, networked security and alarm systems can be targeted by criminal hackers," says Fliehe. "Users should therefore make sure that the devices are set up correctly and used safely."

The TÜV Association recommends the following security precautions for the smart home:


An easy gateway for cyber attacks are passwords preset by the manufacturer. Consumers should change them immediately when setting up the devices and create a strong password. It should consist of at least ten characters, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.


An adequately secured home network is an important prerequisite for protecting the Smart Home. For WLAN routers, it is recommended to use the latest encryption standard WPA3.


When controlling Smart Home devices via smartphones or tablets, the data shares of other apps and programmes should be carefully checked: Rights such as access to the microphone or camera are often requested during installation. To protect personal data, consumers should read the manufacturer's privacy policy and only share the rights that are actually necessary for the functionality of a device.


Outdated software versions always pose a security risk, as security gaps often appear over time. To close these gaps, consumers should regularly install software updates on smart home devices and routers. Software updates also often include extended functions or better compatibility with different devices.


The Smart Home can be operated in a separate network that is not connected to other devices such as computers. It is set up via the Internet router.


In the smart home sector, there are now also certifications for the IT security of the device, such as the TÜV test mark CyberSecurity Certified (CSC). Such certificates issued by independent assessment bodies provide consumers with guidance when making a purchase.

Methodological note: The data is based on a representative survey of 1,001 people aged 16 and over conducted by the market research institute Forsa on behalf of the TÜV Association. The survey took place in January 2023. Comparable surveys were conducted by Forsa on behalf of the TÜV Association in January 2021 and February 2019.