Global Consensus Emerges to Secure Internet-Connected Home and Wearable Devices

15 Feb 2022

Lisa Chamberlain, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum,

· By 2025 there will be an estimated 30 billion connected devices, almost four per person, yet consumer protection against hacking remains fragmented

· A global consensus for baseline security measures to protect consumers is emerging through a first-time collaboration convened by the World Economic Forum

· Consumer groups, tech companies and non-profit organizations agreed five baseline standards of protection for consumers, endorsed by more than 100 organizations and major tech companies

· Read the statement here

San Francisco, USA, 15 February 2022 – The consumer internet of things (IoT) global market size is forecast to grow from $45 billion today to $154 billion by 2028. Whereas early adoption of smart wearables, home electronics and appliances was concentrated in North America and Western Europe, China is projected to overtake the United States as the largest market by the end of 2024.

As the use of connected devices increases worldwide, so does the potential for cyber threats – particularly as new products introduce vulnerabilities, potentially exposing people to hacking or leaks of personal data.

To address this challenge, the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Connected World mobilized a multistakeholder coalition of business leaders, government officials and technology experts to build a consensus on baseline security protections. Reflecting the interests of industry, consumers, white hat hackers and governments, the stakeholders agreed on five security requirements for consumer-facing IoT devices – the first international consensus of this type.

“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,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum. “Today’s announcement is an important step towards a more secure digital future and is testament to the critical role of multistakeholder collaboration in promoting the responsible development and use of technology.”

Cybersecurity Tech Accord, Consumers International, and I Am the Cavalry, representing more than 400 member organizations globally, developed a statement based on research and dialogue, which has already been endorsed by more than 100 organizations and major tech companies, including Microsoft and NTT. This Statement of Support calls on device manufacturers and vendors to take immediate action.

“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," said Rob Spiger, Principal Security Strategist, Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft.

“Connected devices are in consumers’ homes in increasing numbers, but many are poorly secured and lack basic protections,” said Helena Leurent, Director-General, Consumers International. “Consumers face serious risks and may not even be aware. It is encouraging to see support for a much overdue change. Consumer advocates everywhere look forward to seeing active adoption and enforcement of strong standards.”

“By endorsing these five key responsibilities, the organizations that have signed on are sending a clear message about minimum acceptable standards,” said Marc Rogers, Vice-President, Cybersecurity, Okta, and white hat hacker. “Most importantly it is setting a baseline that I hope will unify the industry approach leading to better security for all consumers worldwide.”

“Building a secure and trusted Connected World is important to all of us,” said Shahid Ahmed, Group Executive Vice-President, New Ventures and Innovation, NTT Ltd. “NTT is excited to participate in this global collaboration between industry, consumer groups and governments to accelerate better security measures for IoT, using these five provisions as a starting point.”

“The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is proud to be joining consumer advocates and security activists in an initiative that will help secure the next generation of connected consumer products,” said Annalaura Gallo, Head of Secretariat, Cybersecurity Tech Accord. “Connected devices can bring incredible benefits to consumers but they also come with new cyber risks. Today, we endorse five key security baseline requirements for these devices, hoping they will be promoted and adopted more broadly by governments and businesses worldwide.”

The World Economic Forum’s Council on the Connected World is the foremost international platform for industry and public sector leaders to shape governance and innovation of the internet of things (IoT) and related technologies in the global public interest.

Notes to editors
Learn more about Future of the Connected World initiative here
Learn more about the Centre for Urban Transformation here
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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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