Moving Connected Device Security Standards Forward (Google Online Security Blog)

As Mobile World Congress approaches, we have the opportunity to have deep and meaningful conversations across the industry about the present and future of connected device security. Ahead of the event, we wanted to take a moment to recognize and share additional details on the notable progress being made to form harmonized connected device security standards and certification initiatives that provide users with better transparency about how their sensitive data is protected.

Supporting the GSMA Working Party for Mobile Device Security Transparency

We’re pleased to support and participate in the recently announced GSMA working party, which will develop a first-of-its-kind smartphone security certification program. The program will leverage the Consumer Mobile Device Protection Profile (CMD PP) specification released by ETSI, a European Standards Development Organization (SDO), and will provide a consistent way to evaluate smartphones for critical capabilities like encryption, security updates, biometrics, networking, trusted hardware, and more.

This initiative should help address a significant gap in the market for consumers and policy makers, who will greatly benefit from a new, central security resource. Most importantly, these certification programs will evaluate connected devices across industry-accepted criteria. Widely-used devices, including smartphones and tablets, which currently do not have a familiar security benchmark or system in place, will be listed with key information on device protection capabilities to bring more transparency to users.

We hope this industry-run certification program can also benefit users and support policy makers in their work as they address baseline requirements and harmonization of standards.As policy makers consider changes through regulation and legislation, such as the UK’s Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act (PSTI), and emerging regulation like the EU Cyber Security and Cyber Resilience Acts, we share the concerns that today we are not equipped with globally recognized standards that are critical to increased security across the ecosystem. We join governments in the call to come together to ensure that we can build workable, harmonized standards to protect the security of users and mobile infrastructure today and build the resilience needed to protect our future.

The Importance of Harmonized Standards for Connected Devices

Connected devices, not just smartphones, are increasingly becoming the primary touchpoint for the most important aspects of our personal lives. From controlling the temperature of your home, to tracking your latest workout – connected devices have become embedded in our day-to-day tasks and activities. As consumers increasingly entrust more of their lives to their connected devices, they’re right to question the security protections provided and demand more transparency from manufacturers.

After we participated in a recent White House Workshop on IoT security labeling, we shared more about our commitment to security and transparency by announcing the extension of device security assessments – which started with Pixel 3 and now includes Nest, and Fitbit hardware. We have and always will strive to ensure our newly released products comply with the most prevalent security baselines that are defined by industry-recognized standards organizations. We will also remain transparent about critical security features – like how long our devices will receive security updates and our collaboration with security researchers that help us identify and fix security issues to help keep users safe.

By participating in international standards and certification programs such as our work as a member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (Alliance), we’re working to raise the bar for the industry and develop a consistent set of security requirements that users can rely on.

New Research Continues to Help Inform Our Efforts to Establish Strong Security Standards and Labeling Practices

Last year, the Alliance formed the Product Security Working Group (PSWG). Over the past nine months, the working group has been making terrific progress on its mission to build an industry-run certification program for IoT devices that aligns with existing and future regulatory requirements to reduce fragmentation and promote harmonization.

Today, the Alliance in partnership with independent research firm Omdia, published a comprehensive research report that outlines all of the currently published and emerging global IoT security regulations and the standards baselines they map to. This critical research enables PSWG to hone its focus and efforts on harmonizing between ETSI EN 303 645 and NIST IR 8425, as these two baseline security standards were found to underpin the vast majority of the regulations outlined in the research report.

The other notable area of the report highlighted the need for transparent security labeling for connected devices, which has also become a very important industry initiative. A large majority (77%) of consumers surveyed indicated a device label that explains the privacy and security practices of the manufacturer would be important or very important to their purchasing decision. Transparent security labeling is critical in helping consumers understand which devices meet specific security standards and requirements during evaluation. We recently provided our principles for IoT security labeling and will continue to be a key contributor to efforts around providing users with transparent device security labels.

Creating Strong Connected Device Security Standards Together

It’s been inspiring to see all of the progress that the Connectivity Standards Alliance, GSMA and the industry at large has made on security standards and labeling initiatives in such a short time. It’s even more exciting to see how much collaboration there has been between both industry and the public sector on these efforts. We look forward to continuing the conversation and coordinating on these important security initiatives with policymakers, industry partners, developers and public interest advocates to bring more security and transparency to connected device users.