Staying safe and smart in the internet-of-things era

iot security card

Today, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord announced its resource hub for internet of things (IoT) device security – “Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected.” Do you have a smart speaker? Smart TV? Smart doorbell? Or any of others on the growing list of internet-connected devices? This resource is for you. Truly, it’s for all of us.

Increasingly, every device and home appliance is internet-connected, and it’s not hard to see why – they’re very convenient. Being able to monitor progress on a fitness tracker or to set and adjust appliances such as a thermostat from one’s phone or by simply talking to a speaker makes life easier and more enjoyable. However, the simplicity of these connected devices, which can be as easy to set up as plugging them in and picking a Wi-Fi network, often belies their security risk. Consumers may feel like they have to choose between using modern devices on the one hand and protecting their privacy and security on the other. Not so.

Addressing this misperception is what the “Stay Smart. Stay Safely Connected” campaign is all about. Developed in collaboration with Consumers International, the resource hub on the Cybersecurity Tech Accord website features simple and straightforward security guidance that is intended to be accessible to all consumers. It includes best practices for IoT security, including:

  1. How to secure your home network – through actions such as strategic router configuration, placement and network naming
  2. How to secure device access – by avoiding common passwords, changing any default passwords and enabling two-factor authentication
  3. How to avoid insecure networks – by not connecting to suspicious public networks and even setting up a dedicated IoT home network.

In addition to this general advice, the website drills down to give specific security guidance for the most common internet-connected devices – including smart speakers, TVs, doorbells, baby monitors and many more. The guidance is comprehensive, easy to follow and empowers all technology users to be in charge of their own security. It even provides “beginner,” “intermediate” and “advanced” levels of security advice for each device, so no matter your level of expertise, you are able to identify concrete steps to keep yourself and your family safe.

In an increasingly connected world, this is precisely the kind of resource that is needed, and the Cybersecurity Tech Accord is uniquely well-suited to provide it.

Now including more than 140 technology companies from around the world, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord is the largest ever industry commitment to cybersecurity principles to protect users and customers everywhere. And protecting the digital ecosystem today doesn’t just mean securing personal computers and phones and the infrastructure of the internet; it also includes protecting the 20 billion connected devices that now make up our internet of things. Thankfully, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord’s advice includes expertise from across the technology industry – including leading chip and device manufacturers as well as software developers – allowing for a 360-degree view of IoT security and the best ways that customers can keep themselves safe.

In addition to checking this new resource hub yourself, I encourage you to share it with friends, family and colleagues, because we are increasingly reliant on connected devices, and doing so will mean we become familiar with our new security responsibilities as users. Helpfully, the contents of the website are already available in four languages – English, Spanish, French and German – to make it accessible to people across multiple regions.  Finally, if you are a device manufacturer, this resource hub is for you, too, because in addition to providing consumer guidance, it also serves as a repository of standards and best practices for manufacturers to create more secure IoT products.

Microsoft has been proud to be a signatory of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord since it was launched in 2018, and to have seen it grow and advance cybersecurity through a number of initiatives in the years since. I am particularly grateful that we have been able to help support this project, however, as it combines so many of the values of the Cybersecurity Tech Accord – working across industry and collaborating with civil society partners – to drive user awareness and better security where it is needed most.

 

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