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Senate Bill Aims to Help Consumers Get Savvy on IoT Cybersecurity

Senate Bill Aims to Help Consumers Get Savvy on IoT Cybersecurity

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced a bill that would require the Federal Trade Commission to develop guidance to help consumers improve their cybersecurity practices with respect to connected devices.  The Internet of Things Consumer Tips to Improve Personal Security Act (or IoT Consumer TIPS Act) of 2017 (S.2234) would direct the FTC to develop resources to aid consumers in:

  • Determining the level of security support for IoT devices post purchase;
  • Securely initiating or setting-up an IoT device;
  • Checking for and executing IoT software updates;
  • Recovering compromised IoT devices;
  • Resetting, deleting, or modifying data collected by an IoT device no longer in use; and
  • Accessing security services or other resources that may further assist consumers with IoT device management.

Industry is working hard to enhance cybersecurity at the network, hardware, and software levels, and it is critically important to get consumers involved in cybersecurity efforts.  Basic cyber hygiene—like establishing secure passwords and promptly executing software updates—can help protect against cyberattacks.  According to Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report, 81 percent of hacking-related breaches studied were the result of weak or stolen passwords.   

Education efforts are proven to work.  Thanks in large part to consumer awareness campaigns by the mobile industry, wireless consumers have improved their mobile device security practices.  A recent CTIA study showed that 77% of Americans use PINs or passwords to protect their smartphones (up 54% percent from 2012); nearly 50% have installed antivirus programs (up 58%); and nearly 60% report that they have the ability to remotely locate, lock, and erase smartphone software (up 43%).  There are numerous tips and guidance documents for consumers on IoT, from the FTC, FBI, NTIA, trade associations, manufacturers, and consumer groups.

Many consumers will be unwrapping IoT devices this holiday season.  It’s important that those consumers use the tools and resources available to help protect against cyberattack, and the bipartisan TIPS Act may help consolidate and focus information available to consumers.

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