U.S. Cyber Trust labels will help consumers pick safer smart devices

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New labels proposed by the U.S. government could soon help consumers choose smart appliances and fitness trackers that it considers relatively secure from cyberattacks, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

Internet-connected devices like refrigerators, TVs, microwaves and climate controls could bear the U.S. Cyber Trust Mark shield if they meet cybersecurity requirements laid out by the federal government. The administration expects the voluntary-labeling program to be in effect next year after the Federal Communications Commission seeks public comment on the proposal.

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So far, Amazon, Best Buy, Google, LG Electronics U.S.A., Logitech and Samsung are among the companies that have committed to increasing cybersecurity of the products they sell as part of the announcement, the government said.

To receive the U.S. Cyber Trust Mark, companies will have to follow cybersecurity standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), such as requiring strong passwords and software updates.

The FCC will apply Tuesday to register a national trademark for the label, which would be applied to products that meet the standards. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is expected to help educate consumers about the new label, once approved, and encourage retailers to prioritize products that carry it.

Other agencies across the executive branch also plan to get involved in making connected devices more secure, according to the announcement. For example, the Department of Energy will collaborate with National Labs and industry to create cybersecurity labeling standards for smart meters and power inverters. And the Department of State plans to engage allies in syncing up cybersecurity labeling standards and creating international recognition of such labels.

NIST will also take up an initiative to create cybersecurity requirements for consumer routers by the end of 2023, which the administration called “a higher-risk type of product that, if compromised, can be used to eavesdrop, steal passwords, and attack other devices and high value networks.” Once completed, the FCC could choose to use the standards to apply the new label to these products as well.

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