When every­thing is connected, every­thing must be protected

Every holiday season, the future arrives. Bows, ribbons and wrapping paper are torn away. Soon another device or two or more gets added to your Wi‑Fi network.

“The average family has six-to-seven connected devices,” explains Brian Ragsdale, Director, Consumer Product Management at Windstream, a broadband provider that serves over 1 million American families in 18 states. “That can be as high as 20-to-30 devices in some homes, and each one can degrade the Wi‑Fi experience.”

Customers expect more than high-speed broadband

In the last decade, the promise of high-speed connection to all your favorite sites through your desktop or laptop PC has been fulfilled for most internet users.

“Customers expect to have speed. We have speeds customers didn’t imagine ten years ago,” he said. “We have speed. Our competitors have speed.”

However, no matter how fast the speed is the connection may not be stable. This is because much of our web surfing has moved from relying on an Ethernet cable to a Wi‑Fi signal. Brian points out that operators tend to get support calls for any problem that slows down that signal, whether they have any­thing to do with it or not.

“Some factors we just can’t control. A Wi‑Fi router on top of a microwave, for instance. Or old devices.”

Focusing on what matters most

That’s why Windstream is focused on what they can provide customers.

“While everybody can provide speed, not every­one can provide a great customer experience and security,” he said.” Security for the devices they have now and the ones they’re going to have the next two years.”

Securing every device in the entire home can be a massive challenge. The number of insecure devices installed in homes is staggering.

IoT threats on the rise as the number of connected devices explode

The number of existing IoT threats doubled in 2018. Threats targeting weak/default credentials, unpatched vulnerabilities, or both, made up 87% of observed threats. More than 8 in 10 home and office routers were vulnerable, according to a 2018 study by the American Consumer Institute.

“We want to make sure our Wi‑Fi is as fast and reliable as possible,” he said. “So security comes first.”

Brian first became familiar with F‑Secure’s Connected Home solutions after digging into the buzz about IoT security. He did research and attended conferences across the country.

“The industry data speaks for itself,” he said.

About a third of American families already live smart homes. That percentage is expected to exceed more than half by 2023.

“We knew we couldn’t be caught flatfooted when it comes to IoT security,” Brian said.

A new F‑Secure IoT Threat Land­scape report notes that privacy concerns are affecting consumer behavior. An F‑Secure survey found 46% said they have not purchased a connected device due to security concerns. Similarly, 48% said they have not purchased an “intelligent” device due to concerns about the amount of personal data it may leak.

Simplicity matters

Securing the multitude of devices consumers want to bring into their homes is a necessity. But this will only happen if securing devices as easy as adding a new one to the Wi‑Fi network.

“Customers want to have a simple, easy experience,” Brian said.

That’s why delivering a premium Wi‑Fi experience along with a secure router that employs F‑Secure’s breakthrough Sense technology that protects all the devices in the home at once make up two of Windstream’s top priorities.

“We’re working with F‑Secure in expanding smart IoT security, parental controls in conjunction with developing secure IoT products our customers can count on.”

Ready for the future

Brian came into the broadband world from the cellular industry. In the nine years he’s been delivering high-speed connections to consumers he’s seen the industry trans­form. He’s looking forward to being part of the next revolution. Now, the internet can make our homes safer, smarter and more enjoyable—as long as the security is there.

“We can’t be apathetic to the threats our customers face,” he said.

The future is coming and it’s his job to be ready for it.