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Experts call for increased consumer awareness of IoT security issues

30 January 2018 - 10:17 by Mike Price

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Researchers in the US have argued that more needs to be done to educate consumers about the risks associated with using devices which form part of the nebulous Internet of Things (IoT).

The Register reports that a study published by the American government provides guidance on how to handle issues associated with internet-enabled devices, arguing that at the moment there is a distinct lack of protection, which is allowing botnets to thrive.

Crucially, it is also confirmed that consumers should not be held to account if it turns out that their devices have been compromised and used to carry out cyber attacks by hackers, since security should be the responsibility of manufacturers.

The IoT encompasses a wide range of devices, from full sized kitchen appliances to small, low powered gadgets like the Amazon Dash button, which exists solely to allow orders to be placed via safe shopping online at a single press. Furthermore, this market is growing bigger by the day as more devices embrace internet connectivity without necessarily offering adequate security measures to keep them free from exploitation.

This call to raise public awareness about potential pitfalls and encourage users to keep their devices up to date with the latest security patches wherever possible is just as applicable in the UK as it is across the pond. And since botnets created from IoT devices can have an adverse impact on services and websites which millions of people rely upon, getting this message across could be fairly straightforward.

The authors of the study claim that the best way to boost security is to regulate so that all connected gadgets targeted at consumers are secure innately when they come out of the factory, while also being able to receive patches that are applied automatically when flaws are revealed. This will stop products designed to make safe shopping online simpler being the weak link in world IT security.