New Program May Help You Choose More Cyber-Secure Devices

The voluntary program is aimed in part at helping people make better-informed purchasing decisions about the cybersecurity of smart devices.

Padlock icon on circuit board.
(Image credit: KanawatTH)

Do you know how secure your smart device is from cyber criminals? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aims to help with that.

The agency voted this week to create a voluntary cybersecurity labeling program to help consumers identify smart devices that meet widely accepted security and privacy standards.

The aim is help people make informed purchasing decisions, differentiate trustworthy products in the marketplace and create incentives for manufacturers to meet higher cyber security standards, the FCC said.

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Under the program, a new shield logo entitled “U.S. Cyber Trust Mark” will appear on products meeting the cybersecurity standards. The logo will appear on packaging alongside a QR code that can be scanned for the details on the product's security, including the timeline for security support and whether software patches and security updates are automatic, the FCC said.

“Just like the ‘Energy Star’ logo helps us know which devices are energy efficient, the Cyber Trust Mark will help us make informed choices about the security and privacy of Internet of Things products we bring into our homes and businesses,”  FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

The FCC said it is also seeking public comment on additional potential disclosure requirements. This includes information on whether software or firmware in the products is developed or deployed by a company that is located in a country that presents national security concerns and whether customer data is collected by the product and sent to servers located in such a country.

Smart device numbers multiply

The move comes as the number of smart devices is skyrocketing, with some groups estimating that more than 25 billion connected devices will be in operation by 2030, the FCC said. In the first six months of 2021, there were an estimated 1.5 billion-plus cyberattacks against smart devices.

Based on criteria developed by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, the program builds on significant public and private sector work already underway concerning smart device cybersecurity and labeling.

Last July, the Biden administration announced plans to launch the program, saying that it would raise cybersecurity standards across common devices including smart refrigerators, microwaves, televisions, climate control systems and fitness trackers.

Several electronics, appliance and consumer product manufacturers, retailers and trade associations have already made voluntary commitments to increase cybersecurity for their products, the administration said. These include Amazon, Best Buy, Google, LG Electronics U.S.A., Logitech and Samsung Electronics.

Esther D’Amico
Senior News Editor

Esther D’Amico is Kiplinger’s senior news editor. A long-time antitrust and congressional affairs journalist, Esther has covered a range of beats including infrastructure, climate change and the industrial chemicals sector. She previously served as chief correspondent for a financial news service where she chronicled debates in and out of Congress, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department with a particular focus on large mergers and acquisitions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and in English.

With contributions from