UK Government Launches Funding Program to Boost Security of IoT Market

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The UK government has today launched a program to incentivize the creation of design schemes that test the security of Internet of things (IoT) products. Under the initiative, innovators are encouraged to bid for funding from a pot of £400,000 to create more assurance schemes, which ultimately aims to boost the security of consumer-smart products.

Assurance schemes are vital in the IoT product market, as they prove that a device has undergone independent testing or a robust and accredited self-assessment process. Their importance is set to grow, with an estimated 75 billion internet connected devices, such as televisions, cameras and home assistants, to be in homes around the world by the end of 2025.

It is hoped the program will provide manufacturers with a variety of options to choose from in testing their consumer-smart products in accordance with the UK’s Code of Practice for Consumer IoT Security. An increase in these assurance schemes will also assist retailers in stocking secure IoT devices and customers in making security-conscious purchasing decisions.

Digital Minister Matt Warman, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commented: “We are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online and are developing laws to make sure robust security standards for consumer internet-connected products are built in from the start.

“This new funding will allow shoppers to be sure the products they are buying have better cybersecurity and help retailers be confident they are stocking secure smart products.”

Commenting on the announcement, Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “This comes at a time when IoT seems to have been forgotten about, yet funding to support the security of such devices couldn’t be more vital. Many people favor convenience over security so it’s paramount that IoT devices come fitted with security by design, to help protect the devices and customers. This is usually where the manufacturers choose cutting costs over the protection of the end users, which in turn puts the users at risk of a range of potential attacks. Hopefully this will be the beginning of more funding as I’m not sure how far this initial input will go.”

The move comes amid other initiatives being taken by the UK government to combat cybercrime. These include legislation to bring in minimum security requirements for smart devices, and last month the government launched the ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign to advise people on protecting passwords, accounts and devices.

Warman added: “People should continue to change default passwords on their smart devices and regularly update software to help protect themselves from cyber-criminals.”

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