Connectivity

FCC paves way for new cybersecurity labeling program

Voluntary compliance is designed to boost trust in connected devices.
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Thinking about buying an off-brand Ring doorbell? Considering an Alexa-like voice assistant but don’t know which one to choose?

Under a new program established Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission aims to make comparing the security features of connected devices much more accessible for consumers.

Products bearing the US Cyber Trust Mark—which could range from home security cameras to wi-fi routers and baby monitors—will be part of a voluntary registry that certifies compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity criteria. As IT Brew previously reported, consumers will be able to scan a QR code on the packaging of certified products to learn more about their security features.

“Our expectation is that over time, more companies will use the Cyber Trust Mark—and more consumers will demand it. This has the power to become the worldwide standard for secure Internet of Things devices,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Thursday in prepared remarks.

When the White House first announced the program last summer, it noted that big players including Amazon, Best Buy, Google, LG, Logitech, and Samsung Electronics had already agreed to participate.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, who recently questioned the sellers of certain smart doorbells with newly discovered security loopholes, said during an FCC meeting Thursday that the program comes at the right time to save tech consumers a lot of headaches.

“Far too many IoT products include lackluster security features as of now, and this is a risk truly to all of us because insecure, cheap IoT products can threaten security, our privacy, the sanctity of our homes,” he said. “With the proliferation of connected products available, it is challenging even for the most informed consumer to confidently identify the cybersecurity capabilities of any given device. Help is on the way, starting today.”

Still, Starks noted that “much work remains here before we’ll see this actually on a package.” Some of the agency’s next steps include seeking public comment on additional aspects of the program and selecting administrators to oversee the initiative.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.