Hi-tech firms are banding together to make sure “internet of things” smart devices are safe to use.
More than 30 firms, including BT, Intel, and Vodafone, are creating an industry body to vet internet-connected devices for vulnerabilities and flaws.
It will encourage firms making smart gadgets to think about security as the hardware is being developed.
Consumers could be at risk unless the industry gets better at securing hardware, say experts.
“We need to be careful because if we are not, then we could be sleepwalking into some big problems,” said John Moor, from the NMI industry group that represents UK chip makers and has helped launch the forum.
Smart and safe
The internet of things is the name given to the growing trend of adding sensors and communications to household objects so they can help monitor a home and be managed remotely.
In addition, many formerly dumb machines used in manufacturing and industry are being hooked up to the net to help firms fine tune their business.
Before now, said Mr Moor, there had been a series of security lapses in which popular consumer devices such as baby monitors were found to be leaking data or were vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
The Internet of Things Security Foundation would address this problem by educating its members about ways to secure smart devices so they were much harder to hack, he said.
“We want to make it safe to connect,” said Mr Moor. “That’s what we are imploring our members to do.”
Mr Moor said the forum was keen to work with other industry groups also trying to make smart stuff more secure.
Organisations such as the BuildItSecure.ly, I Am The Cavalry and the Online Trust Alliance’s IoT Trust Framework are all working to educate hardware makers about security and harden devices against attack.
Without greater effort to secure the emerging net of things, consumers and businesses would be put off adopting devices and services that could make their lives easier, said Mr Moor.
“It’s a bit like the aviation industry – when it began, it had to reassure people it was safe to fly,” he said.
“We have to do the same and help people realise it is safe to connect.”