FTC Seeks Automatic IoT Patching Tool, Offers $25K Prize

FTC Seeks Automatic IoT Patching Tool, Offers $25K Prize

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced an IoT competition, dubbed “FTC IoT Home Inspector Challenge”, promising $25,000 to whomever presents a viable solution for automatically guarding or patching IoT software vulnerabilities.

The proposed tool is meant to help consumers keep their home network smart devices safe from hackers, to prevent them from being used in massive Distributed Denial of Service attacks. After the Mirai botnet, comprised of allegedly millions of compromised IoT devices, led to massive internet outages, the FTC’s competition seeks a viable solution to prevent such attacks from reoccurring.

“The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announces a prize competition that challenges the public to create a technical solution (“tool”) that consumers can deploy to guard against security vulnerabilities in software on the Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices in their homes,” reads the FTC announcement. “The tool would, at a minimum, help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software.”

Three honorable mentions will be awarded $3,000 each and the deadline for submitting entries is May 22, 2017 at 13:00 PM EDT. Winners will be announced on or near July 27, and proposed solutions deal with problems revolving around default, hard-coded passwords and easily guessable passwords.

 “The tool would, at a minimum, help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities caused by out–of-date software,” according to the announcement. “The competition’s purpose is to stimulate innovation and progress in protecting and empowering consumers against security risks associated with IoT devices in the home”

While this is not the first time the FTC has issued public challenges for stimulating technology innovation, it could help the FTC develop guidelines or even enforce future security regulations for IoT manufacturers based on the contest’s findings.

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