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Monday, 05 November 2018 10:18

Security firm chief urges laws to make IoT devices safer

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Security firm chief urges laws to make IoT devices safer Pixabay

Security firm Secure Logic has called on the Federal Government to follow the lead of the US state of California and the United Kingdom and introduce legislation to protect Australians from insecure Internet-of-Things devices.

In a statement, Secure Logic chief executive Santosh Devaraj said Australia should move to establish standards for IoT devices sold locally, no matter whether they were manufactured locally or abroad, in order not to risk falling behind other countries.

California passed legislation in September making it mandatory for IoT devices to have login credentials that were unique for each device.

And the UK last month put in place a voluntary code of conduct for IoT device manufacturers, aimed at improving the basic security of these devices.

Devaraj said: “From improving our health to increasing productivity and fixing pollution, connected devices have a huge role to play in society, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of our privacy and personal information.

"The vast majority of people are not aware of the significant risks posed by unsecured IoT devices, and government and the cyber-security industry must work together to empower Australians to take more control of their data security."

He said the specific measures being sought were:

  • A requirement for manufacturers to give each device a unique password, rather than offering a default password that comes with every device (which is more susceptible to hackers);
  • A mandated process around software updates that ensures customers are prompted when key patches are available; and
  • Investment in a nation-wide education program to illustrate the simple steps people could take to protect their personal information when using connected devices.

“At the top of the government’s list should be mandated password protection. Too often manufacturers are letting customers use a blanket password which is easily side-stepped by hackers," Devaraj said.

"There is also work to do in terms of manufacturers monitoring for risks and issuing software updates to better protect customers. If the proper investment is made in the product development phase, security can be managed without a detrimental impact on cost or customer experience.

“With documented cases of baby monitors, share bikes and pacemakers being hacked, the stakes are high. It’s not in anyone’s interest to create a scare campaign around this issue, however, more education is pivotal in driving improved security outcomes and more action from manufacturers."

He said his company would be engaging with others in the industry to build support for such laws and was awaiting the findings of the Federal Government-funded research paper "The Internet of Things: Maximising the benefit of deployment in Australia" being prepared by the Australian Council of Learned Academies.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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