Federal Trade Commission launches $25,000 IoT security competition

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US has launched a competition to encourage members of the public to come up with technical solutions to protect Internet of Things (IoT) devices from security threats.

The competition, named the IoT Home Inspector Challenge, is offering a financial prize of up to $25,000 to the winner, while honorable mention winners will receive $3,000.

Announced on January 4th on the Federal Register, the competition requires, as a minimum, a solution that helps “protect customers from security vulnerabilities on their home devices caused by out of date software”.

The solution could be anything from a physical device that can be added to the customer’s home network – to check and install updates for multiple IoT devices on the network – to an app providing update information based on the individual appliance.

Additional features are also optional, “Such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords”, the FTC stated.

Entrants can compete alone or in a team and must register by May 22nd, with the winner to be announced on July 27th, 2017.

Along with a description of the tool, contestants must submit a video demonstrating how the device works.

According to the FTC, the main purpose of the competition is to “stimulate innovation and progress in protecting and empowering consumers against security risks associated with IoT devices in the home”.

IoT devices range from mobile phones to coffee machines, and although groundbreaking in what they offer, carry security risks.

The difficulties consumers face with ensuring that household devices are up to date and secure was highlighted by the FTC in its announcement.

It stated: “As devices within the home multiply, the task of updating devices could become increasingly daunting”.

Another concern highlighted by the FTC is the fact only those aware of the dangers are able to protect themselves by installing software updates.

“To be able to take these steps, consumers must have a certain level of technical expertise”, it said.

IoT security has become increasingly more important in recent times, as demonstrated by last year’s IoT DDoS attacks.

Author , We Live Security

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