Brian Sims

Circa £200,000 set aside by Government for testing smart device security

ORGANISATIONS CAN now apply to the Government for funding to support research into the cyber security of office devices which can connect to the Internet – such as printers, cameras and room booking systems – to ensure that they are properly protected against would-be hackers.

Thousands of UK businesses rely on these products, collectively known as enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to increase productivity and enable hybrid working. The Government’s funding is aimed at new research to uncover vulnerabilities in these commonly used enterprise IoT products and assess the cyber resilience of the devices themselves.

Smart devices in the workplace can collect sensitive data, which can then be accessed by other users, rendering them an attractive target for cyber criminals to exploit. While devices may have some protections built-in, products with poor cyber security can leave those companies using them at risk.

For example, back in 2019, Microsoft’s researchers found that Russian hackers were compromising conference phones and office printers in organisations across many sectors. Pleasingly, Microsoft was able to successfully block the attacks before they could cause any damage.

The successful bidder will be awarded up to £200,000 to test popular devices and help identify if current security measures and guidance, such as international standards and the National Cyber Security Centre’s own device security principles are robust enough to protect businesses from today’s evolving threats.

Pivotal role

Cyber minister Julia Lopez said: “Technology played a pivotal role in keeping British businesses going during the pandemic, greatly helping the pivot to hybrid working and boosting productivity ever since. This research will ensure we have the right measures in place to protect our economy and keep our offices and workers safe from cyber security threats.”

The grant is part of the Government’s £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy designed to protect the UK from cyber threats and grow the digital economy. It supports the UK’s objective of taking the lead in the field of those technologies vital to cyber power and securing the IoT and connected technologies used by consumers and enterprises.

This work complements the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill currently passing through the Houses of Parliament, which itself strengthens the cyber resilience of consumer IoT devices, among them smart speakers and smart TVs.

*Further information concerning the Government grant can be accessed online

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