Four US senators have proposed a bill that, if adopted, will impose certain cybersecurity requirements for technology companies that sell Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the US federal government. Titled ‘Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act’, the bill will require companies to ensure that their products are patchable and do not include ‘hard-coded’ passwords (that cannot be changed). Companies would also have to notify the purchasing agency of any known security vulnerabilities or defects that they become aware of for the duration of the contract. The bill would exempt cybersecurity researchers from liability under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when engaged, in good faith, in researching the cybersecurity of IoT devices.
The Internet of Things (IoT) includes a wide range of Internet-connected devices, from highly digitalised cars, home appliances (e.g. fridges), and smart watches, to digitalised clothes that can monitor health. IoT devices are often connected in wide-systems, typically described as 'smart houses' or 'smart cities'.
Cybersecurity is among the main concerns of governments, Internet users, technical and business communities. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are on the increase, and so is the extent of the financial loss.
Yet, when the Internet was first invented, security was not a concern for the inventors. In fact, the Internet was originally designed for use by a closed circle of (mainly) academics. Communication among its users was open.
Cybersecurity came into sharper focus with the Internet expansion beyond the circle of the Internet pioneers. The Internet reiterated the old truism that technology can be both enabling and threatening. What can be used to the advantage of society can also be used to its disadvantage.