Should smart tech come with a ‘use by’ date?

Our homes are getting smarter – we control smart speakers all around the home with our voices, control our thermostats from anywhere with smart heating, and control the ambiance with smart lighting. There are even smart fridges that which are programmed to sense what kinds of products are stored inside it and keep a track of the stock through barcode or RFID scanning.

These gadgets all have one thing in common, they’re constantly online. And anything that’s always connected can be used in a cyber attack. And the older the connected tech, the easier it is to hack into.

So, is it time smart tech came with a ‘use by’ date?

Why smart tech should come with a ‘use by’ date

There are currently an estimated 8.4 billion items in the UK that connect to the internet, any of which can be used to hack into our personal data, which has led the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the government agency tasked with making the UK the safest place to live and do business online, to identify that our homes are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals.

Hi-tech crooks no longer need to hack into our computers, or get in via our routers, to get their hands on our personal data, they can find a way in through games consoles, smart meters and even automatic plant-watering systems – if it connects to the internet, it can be hacked.

If you regularly use any connected device, you’ll know that manufacturers often run software updates to make sure your kit is running efficiently, and all its security systems are in order. But this isn’t happening with all of the smart technology we’re installing in our homes, and few of us will keep track of how old things like routers and connected DVD players or games consoles are – and if these systems are outdated, you can bet they’re easy to hack into.

There are even cases where people have taken over the webcams on smart TVs or laptops, to actually spy on people in their houses. All very scary, all very sci-fi, but also all very real.

But what can we do about it?

The best thing to do is make sure every device is updated and secure, change passwords regularly and be vigilant. And now a set of guidelines have been drawn up to help us decide what is ‘good’ tech and ‘bad’ tech.

The internet of things (IOT) Code of Practice

Government figures show that each UK household owns at least 10 internet connected devices, and it’s difficult to assess the safety and reliability of these devices and their applications, which leaves them wide open to hackers.

And so the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), in collaboration with the NCSC, as well as manufacturers and retailers, has drawn up the IOT Code of Practice. One of the recommendations in that best practice guide is that smart tech comes with a ‘use by’ date, so you know for exactly how long the manufacturer will support that tech with software updates. Once this date has passed, the tech should be disconnected for good.

David Mudd, IoT Development Director at BSI said: “There is already at least one IoT device for every person on the planet, and this is set to grow exponentially as the full potential of this technology is realized.

“Consumers and industry need to have confidence in the safety and reliability of these new devices and applications. Standards catalyse trust between innovative technologies and innovative business models. Independent verification to a government code of practice will unlock trust in IoT both today and tomorrow.”

Do you think smart tech should come with a ‘use by’ date? Let us know in the comments section below.

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