UK to introduce new laws for internet connected devices

Plans to ensure that millions of household items that are connected to the internet are better protected from cyber attacks

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Digital Minister Margot James has announced plans to ensure that millions of household items that are connected to the internet are better protected from cyber attacks.

Options that the Government will be consulting on include 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 that retailers will only be able to sell products with an Internet of Things (IoT) security label.

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. Our Code of Practice was the first step towards making sure that products have security features built in from the design stage and not bolted on as an afterthought.

These new proposals will help to improve the safety of Internet connected devices and is another milestone in our bid to be a global leader in online safety.

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.

This innovative labelling scheme is good news for consumers, empowering them to make informed decisions about the technology they are bringing into their homes.

The consultation follows the government’s voluntary Secure by Design Code of Practice for consumer IoT security launched last year. The Code advocates for stronger cyber security measures to be built into smart products right from the design stage, and has already been backed by Centrica Hive, HP Inc Geo and more recently Panasonic.

The proposals come a day after Margot James held a roundtable on IoT security with global technology companies. As a result Amazon, Philips, Panasonic, Samsung, Miele, Yale and Legrand affirmed their commitment to taking steps to ensure that effective security solutions are being implemented across IoT products on the market.

The Government is working with international partners to ensure that the guidelines drive a consistent approach to IoT security. The proposals set out in the consultation have the potential to impact security of devices made across the world to meet the UK’s future standards.

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.

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