Government urges tech companies to beef up security on household smart devices

Posted On: 
7th March 2018

Ministers have told tech companies to improve security on internet-connected devices in a bid to crackdown on hacking.

Internet-connected toys are often an easy target for hackers to gain entry into homes.
PA Images

New guidelines issued by the Department of Culture Media and Sport say that products such as electronic toys and televisions should all have unique passwords and be blocked from being reset to factory settings.

Ministers also want all sensitive data to be encrypted before it is transmitted, and to ensure that software updates happen automatically, reducing the possible routes of entry for a potential intruder.

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The initiative is part of a £1.9bn cyber security strategy which has been launched by the Government.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: "We have worked alongside industry to develop a tough new set of rules so strong security measures are built into everyday technology from the moment it is developed.

"This will help ensure that we have the right rules and frameworks in place to protect individuals and that the UK continues to be a world-leading, innovation-friendly digital economy."

The Government estimates that each UK household owns at least 10 internet-connected devices, and that within three years, there will be 420 million such items in use.

Alex Neil from consumer watchdog Which? said: "With connected devices becoming increasingly popular, it’s vital that consumers are not exposed to the risk of cyber-attacks through products that are left vulnerable through manufacturers’ poor design and production.”

"Companies must ensure that the safety of their customers is the absolute priority when ‘smart’ products are designed. If strong security standards are not already in place when these products hit the shelves, then they should not be sold."