Leon Neal/Getty Images
show image

Matt Warman

Minister for Digital

Why the UK is banning default passwords in IoT devices

From washing machines and children’s toys to personal assistants, we are increasingly seeing more of our daily lives connected to the internet.

In fact, research suggests by 2025 there will be 75 billion internet connected devices in homes around the world.

However, the current security standards of many of these devices are low and the security and privacy risks are too great.

Last week, for example, the usernames and passwords for more than 500,000 devices including Internet of Things (IoT) products were made available online.

Our aim is to make the UK the world’s leading digital economy. But if we are to achieve this ambition we need to make sure people trust technology.

I believe we can do this through pro-innovation regulation. So today I’ve announced we are developing new legislation to hold firms manufacturing and stocking internet-connected devices to account to stop hackers threatening people’s privacy and safety.

These new laws will mean consumers are protected from devices which do not adhere to the three rigorous security requirements we’ve developed alongside a code of conduct.

These measures will mean all the passwords pre-programmed in internet-connected devices must be unique and not resettable to any universal factory setting.

They will place a responsibility on manufacturers of IoT devices that they must make sure a public point of contact is always available as part of a disclosure policy so any security vulnerabilities found with the device can be reported quickly.

Too often manufacturers do not state the minimum length of time for which the device will receive security updates at the point of sale, either in store or online, meaning people’s devices might not be safe. The new rules will make this a thing of the past.

We want to make the UK the safest place to be online, without hindering innovation.

Thanks to this legislation, robust standards will be built in from the design stage and mean people have confidence in the power of technology to improve people’s lives.

Matt Warman is the Minister for Digital