Smart home devices are set to receive their own special label thanks to a new federal government initiative recently announced by the Biden-Harris Administration. Similar to the ENERGY STAR mark that comes out of energy the Environmental Protection Agency’s efficiency ratings, the new U.S. Cyber Trust Mark will be placed on product deemed the most secure from cyberattacks by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
That means products like smart televisions, doorbell cameras, connected thermostats, fitness trackers, and even smart appliances would all be subject to scrutiny through the proposed program. And products that prove to meet the yet-to-be-finalized set of standards would then be able to place the Cyber Trust mark on their packaging and leverage the importance of the program in their marketing.
A number of major appliance and consumer electronics manufacturers have already voluntarily made commitments to following the new standards, including Google, LG Electronics USA and Samsung, according to a statement released by the White House.
Proposed by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the program is intended to “raise the bar for cybersecurity across common devices” and “help Americans more easily choose smart devices that are safer and less vulnerable to cyberattacks.” In addition, the program would benefit participating businesses by helping them differentiate their product in the marketplace by having them classified as “trustworthy.”
The FCC said it will immediately begin work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to “define cybersecurity requirements” for consumer-grade routers, which are among the highest at-risk product because of the role they play in connecting all devices in a home, and the fact that, if compromised, they can be used to eavesdrop on a home’s network, steal passwords and access other devices connected to that network.
The FCC plans to seek public comment on the program over the coming months with plans to launch the label in 2024.
What You Should Know
While the new mark won’t hit packaging until sometime next year, this is a great opportunity for independent retailers and custom integrators to get ahead of the topic with their customers and clients. Cybersecurity has been, and will continue to be, a hot topic among consumers and a potential barrier to entry for the smart home category. Take this opportunity to educate your customer on the safeguards already in place and thigns they can do to better protect themselves from potential bad actors.
“This mark is a step in the right direction,” Eric Sindelar, Nationwide’s director of connected services, says about the new program. “The average IoT user probably doesn’t realize that their system can be accessed through Wi-Fi devices such as thermostat, a doorbell camera or smart TVs. Synopsys researchers found at least one open-source vulnerability in 84 percent of code bases, an entry point for hackers.”
And though the goal of the new mark is to ensure consumers that their product is safe and secure, there are still important best practices that need to remain top of mind, Sindelar explains. Things like “reminding the end user about the importance of installing that latest update. Those updates most commonly include certain security patches.”