The government has announced it will develop a new code of practice designed to improve the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, manufacturers of smart devices will be expected to build in “tough” new security measures that will last the lifetime of the product, as part of plans to keep the UK protected from increasing cyber threats.

Poorly secured devices result in a threat to online security and privacy, and could be exploited as part of large-scale cyber attacks. Recent high-profile breaches that put data and security at risk include attacks on smart watches, CCTV cameras and children’s dolls.

The government’s Secure by Design review, which was developed in collaboration with manufacturers, retailers and the National Cyber Security Centre, sets out plans to embed security in the design process rather than add them on as an afterthought.

It outlines practical steps for manufacturers, service providers and developers, including encouraging companies to ensure that all passwords on new devices and products are unique and not resettable to a factory default, such as ‘admin’.

Working with industry, the government will implement what it called a “rigorous new Code Of Practice” to improve the cyber security of IoT-connected devices and associated services while continuing to encourage innovation in new technologies.

Speaking ahead of a launch event, Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: “We want everyone to benefit from the huge potential of internet-connected devices and it is important they are safe and have a positive impact on people’s lives. We have worked alongside industry to develop a tough new set of rules so strong security measures are built into everyday technology from the moment it is developed.

“This will help ensure that we have the right rules and frameworks in place to protect individuals and that the UK continues to be a world-leading, innovation-friendly digital economy.”

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