DCMS launch Secure by Design regulation consultation

Plans to ensure that millions of household items that are connected to the internet are better protected from cyber attacks have been launched today by Digital Minister Margot James.

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 safety 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.”

CEO of techUK Julian David said:

“techUK welcomes the publication of the Government's consultation on regulatory next steps for consumer IoT. This follows the Government’s voluntary Secure by Design Code of Practice for consumer IoT security launched last year, which techUK supported. The Code advocates for stronger cyber security measures to be built into smart products right from the design stage.

“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.

“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.”

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 including Amazon, Philips, Panasonic, Samsung, Yale, Legrand and John Lewis.

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