The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a £400,000 fund to fuel ambition for the security of internet-connected products.
The ultimate hope will be to kick-start the development of an assurance market for consumer internet-connected products such as wearable devices or smart doorbells. Such assurance schemes could offer accreditation for products which have undergone relevant tests, providing more confidence for consumers to purchases and to make full use of all functionality without fear of poor security.
“We are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online and are developing laws to make sure robust security standards for consumer internet-connected products are built in from the start,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman.
“This new funding will allow shoppers to be sure the products they are buying have better cyber security and help retailers be confident they are stocking secure smart products.
“People should continue to change default passwords on their smart devices and regularly update software to help protect themselves from cyber criminals.”
The idea is a simple one, but a very good one. Should such assurance programmes be nurtured correctly, and the general public be made suitably aware, it would become a factor in the buying decision making process. Manufacturers would be effectively coerced into compliance as sales could be impacted without the presence of the certification.
Alongside this initiative, new laws in the UK will come into play for consumer internet-connected devices. Any consumer smart device sold in the UK will soon have to adhere to three rules:
- Device passwords much be unique with no option to restore to factory settings
- Manufacturers must create and maintain a public point of contact to report device or software vulnerabilities
- Manufacturers must state how long the device will receive security updates
These rules should form the basis of a more secure digital economy, though product assurance programmes would add more credibility and confidence in the quickly developing segment.
Recent figures from IDC suggest the wearables market is growing, 29.7% year-on-year for the first three months of 2020, though the numbers could have been higher. The on-going COVID-19 pandemic limited shipments due to supply chain disruptions and sourcing component for the products.
While the consumer IOT segment is still in the early development stages, it is critical the industry set the standards on security. Should the segment be allowed to progress too far with bad habits, attempting to correct mistakes and bad practice will become much more difficult. The UK should be applauded for its attempts to get ahead of trends, and hopefully other Governments are taking note.