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IoT Devices Could Have Security Ratings, and Fairly Soon

Silviu STAHIE

December 09, 2019

IoT Devices Could Have Security Ratings, and Fairly Soon

The Internet of Things (IoT) lacks a standardized rating system for cybersecurity, but that’s something safety certification company Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is trying to change.

UL is the world’s biggest independent not-for-profit testing laboratory, and one of its goals is to make the world safer by testing products. One of their initiatives is to rate IoT devices for security to make it easier for people to choose the right product.

While the appeal and potential of IoT devices are undisputed, they come with security problems. As it stands, customers have no way of telling if the IoT product they just bought is safe or if they just introduced a huge vulnerability to their networks. That problem can be fixed with the right kind of testing, and this is where UL would come in.

“The increase in connected solutions also attracts attackers looking to steal personal data or take control over devices for various purposes, including DDoS attacks. As more and more hacks of consumer products make the news headlines, consumers become more aware of potential security risks of their devices,” says Underwriters Laboratories. “But how can consumers determine whether the devices they want to buy are adequately secured? How can they make sure those devices don’t bring attackers into their smart homes?”

According to a CNET report, the company plans to introduce five ratings, from Bronze up to Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. In total, the devices have to meet seven important requirements: software updates, data and cryptography, logical security, system management, customer identifiable data, protocol security, and process and documentation.

The minimum Bronze standard, for example, requires data and cryptography, which in turn means that the device can’t use default passwords. On the other side of the scale, the Diamond ranking would mean the device can withstand brute force attacks.

Even if the security standards become a reality, it will take a while to implement them. UL will release the first details on the standards starting in 2020.

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