By Shaun Boyd
WASHINGTON (CBS4) – The federal government is worried some refrigerators and coffee pots could pose a national security risk, and it’s taking action.
Colorado’s U.S. Senator Cory Gardner among a bi-partisan group of senators who are sponsoring legislation to secure the so-called Internet of Things – everyday devices that are embedded with computer chips and sensors.
Gardner says those devices can be used as weapons of mass disruption.
“The federal government orders billions of dollars worth of Internet of Things devices each and every year,” says Gardner. “These are things that can be hacked into. You can try to control systems, instruments with them. You can certainly read what people are doing and maybe even eavesdrop on a conversation people are having.”
Just last year baby monitors and webcams were used in a cyberattack that took down major websites like Twitter, Spotify and PayPal.
The devices serve as portals to networks.
As Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, Gardner is sponsoring a bill that would require any internet-connected device purchased by the government meet basic security standards.
“Things like firewalling off information, requiring patchable and securable devices, making sure that you don’t have a hardcoded password from a factory that someone can have access to.”
He says many of the devices are imported and have little to no security making them highly vulnerable gateways into government systems that can be exploited by criminals and other countries.
“We’re facing kind of a brave new world when it comes to these things and we need to be prepared from a policy standpoint to address it. Everything around us is going to have to be looked at from a security perspective and what we are doing as country to advance innovation while make sure we are safeguarding people.”
The Internet of Things includes about 15 billion devices, from thermostats to appliances, but it could grow to 50 billion over the next few years.
While the legislation only applies to devices sold to the government, Gardner is hopeful the changes will carry over to those sold in the private sector.