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Government launches consumer advice on smart devices

October 14th 2018

DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) has today launched the government’s consumer guidance around smart devices in the home.

For Get Safe Online's information and advice on smart devices in the home, click here

The guidance is designed to help owners of appliances, printers, smart TVs, voice-activated speakers, camera/security systems, heating controls, toys and other internet-connected devices to manage the security of these products and help protect their privacy.

Smart devices have introduced new levels of convenience and functionality to everyday life. However, there are risks which arise from the fact that these devices – by their very nature – transmit data. Users’ limited knowledge about securing them and, often, poor security protocols and procedures on the part of manufacturers (such as default passwords), can make people, property and data vulnerable. Vulnerabilities could take the form of cybercriminals taking over domestic IP (Internet Protocol) cameras, disabling alarm systems or interfering with heating systems. If inadequately protected, smart devices can also be corralled as part of a ‘botnet’ to flood government, media or commercial websites with millions of concurrent hits, causing them to fail.

The consumer guidance, compiled with input from a number of industry experts and consumer organisations including Get Safe Online, contains straightforward advice on setting up smart devices, managing accounts, updating the associated apps and where to get more information.

Code of Practice for manufacturers also updated

Today’s guidance launch coincides with DCMS’ publication of the updated Code of Practice comprising 13 practical steps that manufacturers of consumer ‘Internet of Things’ devices in order to improve their cybersecurity and render them less vulnerable to attack. It has been developed with, and is supported by, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), technical experts and a wide variety of other stakeholders including industry and consumer groups, manufacturers, retailers and many other organisations. A number of manufacturers have already committed to its guidelines.

DCMS is also publishing a mapping document which links the 13 guidelines to existing standards, recommendations and guidance on IoT security and privacy from around the world.