The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last year called on device manufacturers and other industry players to address security issues with the Internet of Things (IoT), but the Federal Trade Commission is taking the problem to the public.
The FTC last week issued a call for “tinkerers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs” to submit their best designs for a tool that would address security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software on IoT devices.
“Every day American consumers are offered innovative new products and services to make their homes smarter,” Consumer Protection Bureau Director Jessica Rich said. “Consumers want these devices to be secure, so we’re asking for creativity from the public – the tinkerers, thinkers and entrepreneurs – to help them keep device software up-to-date.”
According to the commission, eligible ideas include a physical device, app, cloud-based service, dashboard or other user interface, or added password security features. Submissions will be accepted March 1 through May 22, with winners announced at the end of July.
Up to 20 contestants will be selected in the first round, where judges will only assess the contestants’ videos and abstracts without the detailed explanation. Qualifying contestants will then move on to the final round where the detailed explanations will be considered for a chance to win the top prize of $25,000. Up to three additional “honorable mention” winners will be selected and receive a prize of $3,000 each.
More on the challenge can be found here.
According to a recent Parks Associates whitepaper, there’s more at stake in IoT security than just the FTC’s top prize. The paper indicated around 60 percent of U.S. broadband households are concerned with the security of smart home devices, which could in turn impact uptake of the technology.
“Privacy and support concerns are outpacing smart home adoption, which is currently at 26 percent of U.S. broadband households, and companies need to address these concerns to continue growth in these sectors,” Parks Associates wrote.