Security labels for smart devices could be made compulsory in a bid to fight cyber crime

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Household devices that connect to the internet such as tablets or smart TVs can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks as criminals use ever evolving and sophisticated techniques.

The government has launched plans to tackle this issue which will see better cyber security features to be built into products as well as initiatives to provide consumers with better information on how secure their devices are.

The Government will be consulting on options including a mandatory new labelling scheme. The label would tell consumers how secure their products such as ‘smart’ TVs, toys and appliances are. The move means retailers will only be able to sell items with an Internet of Things (IoT) security label.

The consultation focuses on mandating the top three security requirements that are set out in the current ‘Secure by Design’ code of practice. These include that:]

• IoT device passwords must be unique and not resettable to any universal factory setting.
• Manufacturers of IoT products provide a public point of contact as part of a vulnerability disclosure policy.
• Manufacturers explicitly state the minimum length of time for which the device will receive security updates through an end of life policy.

Following the consultation, the security label will initially be launched as a voluntary scheme to help consumers identify products that have basic security features and those that don’t.

Digital Minister Margot James said: “Many consumer products that are connected to the internet are often found to be insecure, putting consumers privacy and security at risk.

“These new proposals will help to improve the safety of Internet connected devices.”

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Technical Director, Dr Ian Levy said: “Serious security problems in consumer IoT devices, such as pre-set unchangeable passwords, continue to be discovered and it’s unacceptable that these are not being fixed by manufacturers.”

CEO of techUK Julian David said: “We are pleased that the security requirements outlined in the consultation are consistent with the Secure by Design Code of Practice and key industry standards that already exist for consumer IoT devices.

“This is an important first step in creating flexible and purposeful regulation that stamps out poor security practices, which techUK’s research shows can act as significant barriers on the take-up of consumer IoT devices.”

Alternative options to the label that Government are also consulting on would be to mandate retailers to not sell any products that do not adhere to the top three security requirements of the Code.

Useful links

Government ‘Secure by Design’ report

techUK home device ownership report

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