SPLICE Program to Investigate Security and Privacy of IoT Devices and Environments

A joint project from multiple universities aims to strengthen security in IoT devices for smart homes, under the simple name of Security and Privacy in the Lifecycle of IoT for Consumer Environments (SPLICE).

If there’s something that everyone can agree on, it’s that security in the IoT ecosystem is lackluster, at best. Companies are quick to fill niches with IoT devices but, in their hurry to beat everyone to market, they forgo security hardening. In many cases, security crosses their mind only after launch.

Companies and organizations have tried for many years to develop some sort of standard, but they have only managed to fragment the market even more. Some of the latest efforts include the development of a label to explain, in plain terms, the security features of a device. Unfortunately, such initiatives must rely on the manufacturers’ willingness to adopt them.

“The shift toward smart devices and systems in residences—such as houses, apartments, hotels, and assisted-living facilities—offers benefits that include increased energy efficiency and personalized services,” reads the official announcement. “Through faulty configuration or poor design, however, these items can also create unsafe conditions and increase risk of harm to people and property.”

The security researchers are looking to determine the privacy and security needs of all possible customers, keeping in mind the type of environments the devices are deployed in. The five-year SPLICE effort is funded by a $10 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace Frontiers (SaTC Frontiers) program.

The team includes 10 faculty from Dartmouth College, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, Morgan State University, and Tufts University.

Although this is a US effort, its results, if successful, could spill across the entire IoT industry, although it will take years to see any noticeable results.

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