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Consumer Reports Targets IoT Security, Privacy Standard


Consumer Reports is creating an open-source industry standard to make Internet of Things (IoT) apps, devices and software safer than ever before. In a blog post, Consumer Reports indicated the standard will help consumers "understand which digital products do the most to protect their privacy and security and give them the most control over their personal data."

The standard will require companies to delete consumer data from their servers upon request and encrypt data as it is sent through the internet, according to Consumer Reports. Businesses also will need to "be completely transparent" about how they share personal consumer information with other companies.

In addition, Consumer Reports ultimately will use the standard to develop test protocols to review and rate digital products, providing consumers with the ability to evaluate connected devices, software and mobile apps based on security and privacy criteria.

The Digital Standard: A Closer Look

Consumer Reports and several public interest organizations have released "The Digital Standard," which is designed to empower consumers "to make smarter choices about the products they buy."

The Digital Standard emphasizes the following themes:

  • Consumer values must be addressed in product development.
  • Electronics and software-based products should be secure.
  • Consumer information should be kept private.
  • Ownership rights of consumers should be maintained.
  • Products should be designed to combat harassment and help protect freedom of expression.

The Digital Standard has been published on GitHub, and developers, researchers and other GitHub users can add comments and propose changes.

What Is the Impact of the Digital Standard?

IoT security and privacy are major concerns for organizations around the world – just consider some of the data from the "2017 Study on Mobile and Internet of Things Application Security" from Ponemon Institute, IBM Security and Arxan Technologies:

  • 84 percent of study respondents said they believe IoT apps are harder to secure than mobile apps (69 percent).
  • 58 percent said they are more concerned about getting hacked through an IoT app than a mobile app (53 percent).
  • 42 percent indicated it is urgent to secure IoT apps.

Consumer Reports noted the Digital Standard safeguards consumers' IoT security and privacy. The standard addresses "a real gap in the marketplace," Consumer Reports stated, and may reshape the way consumers evaluate digital products.

"If Consumer Reports and other public interest organizations create a reasonable standard and let people know which products do the best job of meeting it, consumer pressure and choices can change the marketplace," Consumer Reports wrote in a blog post.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.