FTC launches $25K contest for smart home IoT security tool

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is offering $25,000 (and runner-up prizes) for a “technical solution” that would protect consumers from the security risks of running out-of-date software on IoT devices in their homes.

Demonstrating growing concern about the security/privacy vulnerabilities of billions of connected devices, the FTC is hoping that the winning efforts will benefit the entire IoT spectrum, which goes far beyond the range of connected appliances, meters, screens, toys and gadgets expected to live in the residential home of the future.

The FTC’s press release states:

An ideal tool might be a physical device that the consumer can add to his or her home network that would check and install updates for other IoT devices on that home network, or it might be an app or cloud-based service, or a dashboard or other user interface. Contestants also have the option of adding features such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords.

Such solutions could be scalable to entire workplaces, offering widespread protection against security threats.

Contest submissions will be accepted from March 1st until midday May 22, 2017. See the challenge homepage for further details.

The IoT Privacy Forum encourages more of such government contests addressing privacy and security concerns in the IoT. Since privacy is more often a cost center rather than a revenue source, money and attention from government actors is a great way to stimulate markets and technology.