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More than three decades after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Energy Star program, to help consumers find energy-efficient gadgets, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doing something similar to steer people towards safer internet-connected devices.
A few weeks ago, the FCC and the White House unveiled a program called the U.S. Cyber Trust Mark, which will see a shield logo attached to electronic goods—like smart TVs and refrigerators, smart climate control systems, and fitness trackers—that meet essential cybersecurity criteria.
The so-called Internet of Things certainly has a cybersecurity problem that needs fixing. Internet-connected devices often have terrible security that allows them to be hacked into for spying purposes or quietly dragooned into botnets that launch massive denial-of-service attacks. Cybersecurity researchers at Check Point Research warned a few months ago that attacks on connected devices within organizations were up by more than 40% year-over-year. Concern about these vulnerabilities is regularly cited as a factor holding people back from embracing the smart home.
“Poorly secured products enable attackers to gain a foothold in American homes and offices, and steal data or cause disruption,” Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council, according to the Washington Post.
The new U.S. plan is still a work in progress and is only expected to fully launch next year. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will need to come up with the exact requirements, but they are expected to cover things like data protection, incident detection capabilities, and software updates—while also encouraging companies to sell their products with “unique and strong default passwords” rather than the easily guessable nonsense that has made it easier to form massive botnets.
A lot of major device makers and retailers are on board with this, including Amazon, Best Buy, Google, and Samsung. “Research shows consumers want more information on the safety and security of their connected devices, and we agree,” Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro said in a statement.
Ultimately, the tech industry will be the winner here, if smart-home holdouts perceive greater safety that will allow them to finally dive in. More news below.
The Privacy and Security team with you the very Happy and safe Holiday Season.