The UK Government has published ground-breaking plans to protect people from cyber-attacks. The announcement comes as new figures commissioned by the government revealed that 49% of UK residents have purchased at least one smart device since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plans will ensure that the makers of smart devices – which include phones, speakers and doorbells – will need to tell customers upfront how long a product will be guaranteed to receive vital security updates.
To counter the threat of major data thefts and security breaches, the government’s proposed law will see that virtually all smart devices meet the following requirements:
- Customers must be informed at the point of sale the duration of time for which a smart device will receive security software updates
- A ban on manufacturers using universal default passwords, such as ‘password’ or ‘admin’, that are often preset in a device’s factory settings and are easily guessable
- Manufacturers will be required to provide a public point of contact to make it simpler for anyone to report a vulnerability
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman remarked: “Our phones and smart devices can be a gold mine for hackers looking to steal data, yet a great number still run older software with holes in their security systems.
“We are changing the law to ensure shoppers know how long products are supported with vital security updates before they buy and are making devices harder to break into by banning easily guessable default passwords.
“The reforms, backed by tech associations around the world, will torpedo the efforts of online criminals and boost our mission to build back safer from the pandemic.”
Brad Ree, CTO of the Internet of Secure Things (IoXT) Alliance, said: “We applaud the UK government for taking this critical step to demand more from IoT device manufacturers and to better protect the consumers and businesses that use them.
“Requiring unique passwords, operating a vulnerability disclosure program, and informing consumers on the length of time products will be supported is a minimum that any manufacturer should provide. These are all included in the IoXt compliance programme and have been well received by manufacturers around the world.”
The UK government intends to introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.