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TECHNOLOGY

Would You Give Up Security For Lower Cost Products?

The cost to produce the hardware for products is going down, but the cost to secure them is going up.

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BY Jacob Morgan - 02 Jun 2017

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It used to be that as new technology was introduced, its high costs kept many people away. The world's first commercial portable cell phone cost nearly $4,000, for example, making it nearly impossible for most people to purchase it. Today, basic cell phones can be purchased for as little as $20, and they have more features than that original phone; smartphones can be as cheap as $100.

In today's fast-moving technological world, the obstacle of price doesn't exist or is overcome quickly. As we improve our development and production methods, the cost of technology is going down and the gap between early adopters and mass consumption is shrinking. The Internet of Things has welcomed in a more connected world and greatly lowered the cost of storing things on the Internet and connecting devices to the web and to each other. The cost of physical technology, like sensors, wearables, mobile devices, and tablets has also decreased dramatically, making them more accessible. This is good news for our data-driven economy and technological world, but it creates an interesting problem.

In order for technology and gadgets to be less expensive, security often gets sacrificed. Even though the cost of goods is going down, we still have to consider the cost of keeping our devices and personal information private and secure.

The move towards less expensive products with less security forces consumers to consider if they are willing to save money to buy a device they know isn't as secure as its more expensive counterpart. A cheaper tablet might save a customer a few hundreds dollars, but it might not come with the same quality of encryption and privacy settings. On a business level, companies might be tempted to save money on a cheaper cloud service provider, but that could mean that the information could more easily be hacked or accessed, putting the company's security at risk. Some consumers will easily go with the less expensive product, while others will spend more money to get a device they know is secure.

Lower-priced products, paired with an increase in connectivity through the IoT and other systems, will likely lead to more hacks and vulnerability across private and business devices. As we connect things like low-cost wearable devices or smartphones with other computers or mobile devices, it provides an opening for hackers to access information. In many cases, even if a lower-cost item is connected to a more secure device, such as an encrypted computer, hackers can more easily access the secure device through the less-secure device, almost like letting a stray dog into your backyard makes it more likely he will someday enter the house.

The trend puts consumers in a difficult situation, as most people want the newest technology but are intrigued by the fact that they could get it for a lower price. The cost to produce the hardware for products is going down, but the cost to secure them is going up as it gets more difficult to isolate hacks and protect against such a wide range of attacks.

Ultimately, it comes down to customers to make the decision of what is more important to them: price or security. Company IT departments will also be faced with the dilemma--although purchasing lower-priced products could be good for the budget and provide more room for revenue, doing so will often come with the chance of exposing customers and employees to added security risks. The issue will only increase as technology continues to grow, meaning that we should get used to weighing the decision between cost and privacy. .

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