The Internet of Things (IoT), the ever-growing number of Internet-connected devices, is rapidly changing the world we live in. These devices – which include things like smart TVs and speakers, and even refrigerators and other appliances – are simplifying consumers’ daily lives, contributing to better productivity at work and transforming supply chains; changing the way products are designed, made and delivered. While IoT products bring tangible benefits, and demand for them increases every year (it is estimated that by 2022 there will be 50 billion consumer IoT devices worldwide), the security threats that surround them are often less visible and frequently underestimated or simply overlooked. However, the staggering 2.8 billion cyber-attacks on IoT devices registered in the second half of 2019 alone highlights just how real these threats are, and how important it is to pay close attention to IoT security.
Today, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord is proud to join in helping improve IoT security by launching “Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected”, an online resource of information on IoT security for consumers and manufacturers of IoT products. The initiative has been developed through a dialogue with Consumers International, the membership organization for consumer groups around the world, and follows our commitment and announcement last year to collaborate with civil society groups and work together on promoting better cybersecurity.
In raising awareness about security risks associated with IoT products, “Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected” aims to bring consumers and manufacturers closer together, recognizing that both have critical and distinct roles to play in protecting IoT products from cyber threats. While manufactures have a primary responsibility to design these products to be secure, it is important for consumers to be aware of potential risks and to know about the steps they can take to use these products securely. With these twin objectives in mind, the ”Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected” initiative has:
- Produced a short video highlighting the importance of consumers keeping their IoT devices secure.
- Collected a series of recommendations for consumers on the steps they can take to protect their IoT products. The recommendations focus on four key actions consumers can take:
- securing the home network;
- using strong authentication methods;
- being careful when connecting to a network and avoiding unsecured public Wi-fi networks; and
- using the devices and the applications installed on them securely (e.g. using anti-viruses and limiting the use of apps that do not encrypt data).
- Developed an overview of the guidelines established by national and international regulators that share what manufacturers can do to ensure their products are secure by design.
“Protecting internet users, consumers of technology products and more broadly citizens that rely on technology in their daily life has always been at the center of our mission as a company and as a signatory of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord. This initiative on consumer IoT security, developed in a dialogue with Consumers International, speaks to the core of our commitment” said Vince Jesaitis, Director of Government Affairs at Arm.
“Cybersecurity is a significant and growing consumer issue. Consumer advocates globally are pushing for the strongest cybersecurity responses from governments and manufacturers to ensure risks to consumers are comprehensively addressed and managed. We welcome our dialogue with Cybersecurity Tech Accord in recognition that no one group can tackle this issue alone. While not a substitute for manufacturer and government action, raising awareness of the security risks from IoT devices and how consumers can try to stay protected is an important element of mitigating cybersecurity risks”, said Helena Leurent, Consumers International’s Director General.
As technology becomes more central to our lives, it will crucial for consumers, manufacturers, governments and all relevant stakeholders to continue the dialogue on the ways to secure our online environment. We hope initiatives such as “Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected” will contribute to advancing this dialogue and help keep cybersecurity central to conversations on technology and innovation. We look forward to continuing the work started with Consumers International and to identifying together effective ways to protect cyberspace and its users from evolving threats.