While IoT devices keep climbing the popularity charts and becoming more intrusive parts of our daily lives, the other thing which is growing at an almost equal pace along with it is the security and privacy concern associated with these internet-connected devices. In order to counter this, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a $25,000 Internet of Things Home Inspector Challenge.
The basic concept behind coming up with the challenge is to encourage people to create a technical solution that home consumers could easily make use of protect themselves from the security vulnerabilities in their IoT devices. While the winner walks away with a price of $25,000, the three runner-up teams will also get $3,000 each.
According to tech experts, poor security is emerging to be a huge challenge because of poor design and human nature. A lot of devices currently in the market aren’t designed well, when we see them from a security point of view of its users. For example: when it comes to passwords, many devices comes with very basic, universal, or completely absent default ones. In fact, there are even some devices that are hard-coded to accept only one password-or worse have none at all.
In the recent past, incidents of cars, security cameras and printers etc. being accessed remotely for criminal purposes or just to prove a point to someone have become a common news.
As far as human nature is concerned, all they expect these devices to do is to function smoothly. Let’s take an example of something as common as home router, if the device is already out dated and vulnerable even even before it is taken out of the box, a majority of consumers neither know that they are required to update it nor, even if they do, how. The same can be extended to cars, door locks, watches, light bulbs, refrigerators, and more devices that would require non-automatic update, which most human beings simply won’t bother to do it. Instead they would prefer selling it and completely forgetting about it.
Hence, FTC aims to solve these two main challenges with the Internet of Things Home Inspector Challenge.
According to a statement given by FTC’s consumer protection bureau head Jessica Rich, every day American consumers are offered innovative new products and services to make their homes smarter. Now, the consumers not only want these devices to be smart but also to be secure. So, this is the reason that FTC has now turned to the public to help them in keeping these devices software up-to-date.
FTC will be accepting applications for the challenge from March 1 to May 22, 2017. After the first round of the competition concludes, up to 20 first-round submissions will be selected for further review and judging.