Plans to introduce new laws on internet connected devices

News by Rene Millman

Basic cyber security features to be built into products under new rules

The UK government has unveiled plans to ensure that millions of household items that are connected to the internet are better protected from cyber attacks.

The new laws were launched by Digital Minister Margot James. The laws will look to ensure that basic cyber security features to be built into products, and consumers will get better information on how secure their devices are. The government has launched consultations ahead of potential legislation.

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, and 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 that 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 safety features built in from the design stage and not bolted on as an afterthought," she added.

"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."

CEO of techUK Julian David said he welcomed the publication of the Government's consultation on regulatory next steps for consumer IoT.

"The proposals set out have the potential to positively impact the security of devices made across the world and it is good to see the Government is working with international partners to ensure a consistent approach to IoT security. techUK looks forward to responding to this consultation on behalf of our members," he said.

"People use their smart TV to watch their favorite Netflix series or connect their baby monitor to their home network, however often they don’t know how to maintain their devices’ security," said Ondrej Vlcek, President, Consumer at Avast.

"It only takes one weak device to let in a bad hacker and once they are on the network, they can access other devices, and the personal data they stream or store, including live videos and voice recordings. Simple security steps like setting strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication for all device access, and ensuring software patches and firmware updates are applied when available, will significantly improve digital home integrity."

Peter Carlisle, vice president at nCipher Security, told SC Media UK that by encouraging ‘Security by Design’ and introducing a new labelling system to tell users whether an IoT device can be trusted, the proposed legislation signals a positive step in the right direction.

"It could ensure that security is baked into IoT devices, protecting both businesses and consumers from the offset and going a step further than the voluntary "code of practice" announced last year," he said.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews