IoT security: We are keeping consumers safe from cyber threats

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IoT security is fundamental to keep consumers safe

From wearable devices to smart homes, IoT security is fundamental to keep consumers safe Image: Luke Chesser/UnsplashUNSPLASH

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  • The lack of consensus around consumer IoT standards has raised concerns about security, privacy, interoperability, and equity.
  • A multistakeholder coalition worked together to agree on IoT security requirements for consumer-facing devices.
  • More than 100 organizations are calling on some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and vendors to take action for better IoT security.

The impact.

When wearing a smart watch or interacting with your smart home devices, you engage with the Internet of Things (IoT), but this also exposes you to potential security risks.

Recognising the urgent need to address these risks, the Council on the Connected World was launched as a multistakeholder collaboration led by the World Economic Forum. The council is the first coalition that aims to establish and promote a global consensus on fundamental IoT security measures, serving as a shield for individuals.

The initial Statement of Support has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations across various industries, as well as civic organizations and even ethical hackers.Arçelik, Arm, AstraZeneca, BlocPower, BrainBox AI, Check Point Software Technologies, Deloitte, Fluxus, Google, Graymatics, HCL Technologies, HumanFirst, Kudelski, Microsoft, NEC, NTT, Qualcomm, QuintessenceLabs, SENSORO, Signify, Trinity Mobility, Unitel, the UK Government's Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS), the Cyber Threat Alliance and many others have united in this crucial endeavor.

"Microsoft is excited to support this effort to raise awareness and advance best practices throughout the industry, as well as to encourage cooperation across stakeholder groups to advance the security of consumer products including the services and platforms they are built on."

Rob Spiger, Principal Security Strategist, Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft

The council’s global consensus is built around five key IoT security requirements for consumer-facing devices:

  • Elimination of universal default passwords: Devices must not rely on predictable and easily exploitable passwords.
  • Regular software updates: Consistent updates are essential to address vulnerabilities and enhance overall security.
  • Secure communication: Robust encryption protocols should be employed to ensure safe data transmission.
  • Protection of personal data: Stringent measures must be in place to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Implementation of a vulnerability disclosure policy: A framework for reporting and addressing security flaws is vital to promote transparency and swift remediation.

"By endorsing these five key responsibilities, the organizations that have signed on are sending a clear message about minimum acceptable standards. Most importantly it is setting a baseline that I hope will unify the industry approach leading to better security for all consumers worldwide."

Marc Rogers, Vice-President, Cybersecurity, Okta

"Creating a safe and secure IoT for the world requires a structured and unified effort. Building on the Council’s requirements, a global approach to standards harmonization and certification can close the governance gap and build trust between industry, governments, and consumers."

Tobin Richardson, President and CEO, Connectivity Standards Alliance

What's the challenge?

The global consumer IoT market is forecasted to reach $154 Billion USD by 2028. As the use of connected devices increases, so does the potential for cyber threats – particularly as new products introduce vulnerabilities, potentially exposing people to hacking or leaks of personal data.

Products in the home can be exposed to more than 12,000 hacking attempts in a single week. Smaller, and cost-sensitive items, with a range of different user interfaces often lack the security features of traditional computer products like laptops and smartphones.

Have you read?

Our approach for improving IoT security and keeping consumers safe.

Established in 2019, the Council on the Connected World is dedicated to enhancing global governance and fostering innovation in the realm of the Internet of Things. Its overarching mission is to amplify the positive impacts of IoT while minimizing potential harm for the betterment of society at large.

At the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023, the council unveiled its flagship report, the State of the Connected World 2023 Edition. This comprehensive publication incorporates survey data from over 270 technology experts worldwide. The findings highlight the transformative nature of connected technology in our lives, yet underscore the existence of governance gaps that hinder its full potential.

To address these challenges, a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors is crucial. This includes the development of universal protocols around ethical use, security and equity, applicable to all connected devices. The report establishes clear priorities for businesses and government leaders, emphasizing the need to:

  • Promote ethical development and use of connected technologies while guarding against unethical practices.
  • Advance robust security measures to protect against cyberattacks.
  • Enhance access to connected technologies and leverae their potential to combat societal inequities.

With these technology governance priorities in focus, the Council is actively engaged in advancing them. The council is actively seeking specific initiatives, actions, or commitments that exemplify these priorities and can be showcased as tangible progress in the field.

"As we look to new technologies to help address pressing global challenges – from climate change to rapid urbanization – we must ensure this progress does not come at a cost to individual safety and privacy."

— Jeff Merritt, Head of Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum

Get involved.

Businesses, government agencies, civil society and academic networks all have a valuable role to play in protecting consumers and making the action plan a reality.

We invite businesses and NGOs to actively participate by nominating initiatives to be included in the action plan and contributing their expertise and resources to existing initiatives. Each initiative has defined specific goals that can be facilitated with the support of the international community.

Contact us or complete this short form if you would like to nominate an initiative, contribute or attend one of our events.

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Related topics:
CybersecurityEmerging TechnologiesFourth Industrial Revolution
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ARCELIKAstraZenecaBlocPowerBrainBox AICheck Point Software TechnologiesCyber Threat AllianceDCMSDeloitteFluxusGoogleGraymaticsHCLTechHumanFirstKudelski GroupMicrosoftNECNippon Telegraph and TelephoneQualcommQuintessenceLabsSENSOROSignifyTrinity MobilityUnitel
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