GCHQ signs up HP and Hive Centrica to IoT code

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre has recruited HP and Hive Centrica to a new code of practice aimed at protecting Internet of things (IoT) devices from cyber attacks.

The two tech companies have signed up to the guidelines in the hope that others will follow suit to ensure security is ‘baked in’ to the design process.

The guidelines are aimed at preventing gadgets such as web-connected doorbells, fridges, cameras, toys and burglar alarms - and the networks they belong to - from being hijacked by cybercriminals.

The government expects more than 420 million internet connected devices will come online within the next three years, and is warning that poorly secured devices including virtual assistants and toys could leave consumers exposed to even large scale cyber attacks.

A website set up jointly with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport sets out a number of steps manufacturers and retailers can take to make devices more secure at the design stage.

The 13 steps include:

- Secure storage of customer data

- Regular software updates

- Requiring users to choose stronger passwords

- Making it easier for users to delete data and re-set devices

- Vulnerability disclosure policies

Minister for digital Margot James,said it was crucial to keep children’s toys and internet connected devices secure in order to keep consumers safe from invasions of privacy and cyber attacks.

“The pledges by HP and Centrica Hive are a welcome first step but it is vital other manufacturers follow their lead to ensure strong security measures are built into everyday technology from the moment it is designed,” she added.

Ian Levy, the NCSC’s technical director, said that with the rapid expansion of connected devices, the code of practice could not come at a more important time.

He explained: “We want retailers to only stock internet-connected devices that meet these principles, so that UK consumers can trust that the technology they bring into their homes will be properly supported throughout its lifetime.”

The news comes as semiconductor giants ARM and Intel agreed to work in partnership to manage IoT networks and connected devices they produce in a bid to accelerate the industry-wide integration which needed to expand the market.

ARM, which is a unit of Japan’s Softbank, said that it had struck a strategic partnership with Intel to use common standards in IoT production, connections and data.

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