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Is Federal IoT Security Legislation a Sign of What’s Next?

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck|December 9, 2020

After receiving rare bipartisan support, the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act is headed to President Donald Trump for signature…

Is Federal IoT Security Legislation a Sign of What’s Next?

After receiving rare bipartisan support, the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act is headed to President Donald Trump for signature…

Is Federal IoT Security Legislation a Sign of What’s Next?

After receiving rare bipartisan support, the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act is headed to President Donald Trump for signature. The bill establishes minimum security standards for Internet of Things (IoT) devices owned or controlled by the Federal Government.

The House of Representatives passed the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act (H.R. 1668) in September, and the Senate approved it on November 17 by unanimous consent. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill.

“While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security,”  Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a press statement. “I’m proud that Congress was able to come together today to pass this legislation, which will harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the devices they create and sell.”

Proliferation of IoT Devices

The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data.  Essentially, any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the Internet to be controlled or communicate information.  These devices include everyday objects, from home security systems to pacemakers which send and receive data via an Internet connection. With the growing popularity of virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, internet connectivity is a growing feature on a wide range of electronic devices. The IoT technology reached 100 billion dollars in market revenue for the first time in 2017, and the figure is predicted to grow to approximately 1.6 trillion by 2025. 

As adoption of the technology grows, so do the potential data privacy and cybersecurity risks, including unauthorized access, misuse of personal information, and personal safety concerns. In response, regulators are working to increase oversight over the technology. California and Oregon have statutes governing connected devices, and bills have been introduced in several other states.

Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act

The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop standards and guidelines for the Federal Government on the appropriate use and management by agencies of IoT devices owned or controlled by an agency and connected to information systems owned or controlled by an agency, including minimum information security requirements for managing cybersecurity risks associated with such devices. The standards must be published within 90 days of enactment.

In developing the standards and guidelines, NIST must ensure that its efforts are consistent with its existing protocols regarding examples of possible security vulnerabilities of IoT devices; and considerations for managing the security vulnerabilities of IoT devices. It must also address the following with respect to IoT devices: (i) secure development; (ii) identity management; (iii) patching; and (iv) configuration management.

In addition to mandating NIST standards, the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act would also:

  • Direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidelines for each agency that are consistent with the NIST recommendations, including making any necessary revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement new security standards and guidelines.
  • Require any IoT devices purchased by the federal government to comply with those recommendations.
  • Direct NIST to work with cybersecurity researchers, industry experts, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publish guidelines on vulnerability disclosure and remediation for federal information systems.
  • Require contractors and vendors providing information systems to the U.S. government to adopt coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies, so that if a vulnerability is uncovered, that can be effectively shared with a vendor for remediation.

Key Takeaway

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act would only apply to federally-procured IoT devices. However, the legislation is likely to spur efforts to create a standard for the private sector as well.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Maryam Meseha, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

Is Federal IoT Security Legislation a Sign of What’s Next?

Author: Scarinci Hollenbeck
Is Federal IoT Security Legislation a Sign of What’s Next?

After receiving rare bipartisan support, the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act is headed to President Donald Trump for signature. The bill establishes minimum security standards for Internet of Things (IoT) devices owned or controlled by the Federal Government.

The House of Representatives passed the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act (H.R. 1668) in September, and the Senate approved it on November 17 by unanimous consent. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill.

“While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security,”  Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a press statement. “I’m proud that Congress was able to come together today to pass this legislation, which will harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the devices they create and sell.”

Proliferation of IoT Devices

The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data.  Essentially, any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be connected to the Internet to be controlled or communicate information.  These devices include everyday objects, from home security systems to pacemakers which send and receive data via an Internet connection. With the growing popularity of virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, internet connectivity is a growing feature on a wide range of electronic devices. The IoT technology reached 100 billion dollars in market revenue for the first time in 2017, and the figure is predicted to grow to approximately 1.6 trillion by 2025. 

As adoption of the technology grows, so do the potential data privacy and cybersecurity risks, including unauthorized access, misuse of personal information, and personal safety concerns. In response, regulators are working to increase oversight over the technology. California and Oregon have statutes governing connected devices, and bills have been introduced in several other states.

Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act

The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop standards and guidelines for the Federal Government on the appropriate use and management by agencies of IoT devices owned or controlled by an agency and connected to information systems owned or controlled by an agency, including minimum information security requirements for managing cybersecurity risks associated with such devices. The standards must be published within 90 days of enactment.

In developing the standards and guidelines, NIST must ensure that its efforts are consistent with its existing protocols regarding examples of possible security vulnerabilities of IoT devices; and considerations for managing the security vulnerabilities of IoT devices. It must also address the following with respect to IoT devices: (i) secure development; (ii) identity management; (iii) patching; and (iv) configuration management.

In addition to mandating NIST standards, the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act would also:

  • Direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidelines for each agency that are consistent with the NIST recommendations, including making any necessary revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to implement new security standards and guidelines.
  • Require any IoT devices purchased by the federal government to comply with those recommendations.
  • Direct NIST to work with cybersecurity researchers, industry experts, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to publish guidelines on vulnerability disclosure and remediation for federal information systems.
  • Require contractors and vendors providing information systems to the U.S. government to adopt coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies, so that if a vulnerability is uncovered, that can be effectively shared with a vendor for remediation.

Key Takeaway

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act would only apply to federally-procured IoT devices. However, the legislation is likely to spur efforts to create a standard for the private sector as well.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Maryam Meseha, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.

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