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.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

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.

Twitter logo (Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

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.

(credit: YouTube)

“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.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

Comments (18)
  1. People complain about NSA and other agencies using unlawful surveillance while they “bug” themselves and broadcast it. Remember that half the people you meet today will be below average!

  2. Interesting, but it’s A OK if the NSA does it, right?

  3. Tim Stewart says:

    Why even buy an appliance with internet connection? I don’t see the appeal.

  4. Why do appliances have to be connected to internet anyway?
    Internet will be ruin of man, remember the Krell

  5. Humanity and equipment are becoming so networked with the web it really is a house of cards. The one silver bullet to take down civil society is to knock out the infrastructure and communications. This is priority 1 with the Chinese and Russians. A true cold war and far more precarious than the last one. THe guy with the analog equipment in his house and diesel generator may be the one that weathers the hack. But then your neighbor will come and cut you in half with a shotgun for your food. Americans have no allegiance to americans anymore.

  6. Joe Campbell says:

    Cory Gardner is one of the worst RINOS in Congress.

  7. Scott Gunn says:

    I showed my coffee pot and fridge my new shotgun and hinted that I needed fun targets for practice. They got the hint and have been very cooperative….now if I can only get the toaster on board.

  8. Why does anyone need the computer chips in low tech devices? Stupidity is making a brainy device that gets so complicated no one knows how to work it.

  9. Dusty Rhodes says:

    The IoT is very dangerous and that includes those ‘smart’ thermostats. There is no way to update the OS in those things and they’re all ripe for hacking. There was a large DoS attack last year that used many Internet of Thing devices to flood European businesses data systems.

  10. And to think I gave this idiot campaign money instead of to the RNC.

  11. Bob A. Booey says:

    Stupid government making stupid rules that always end up costing us more money!

  12. Bryant James says:

    Well good thing I dont drink coffee. Pretty sure my fridge was made pryor to 2008. I think my threat level is about that of a bunny rabbit

  13. John Dendy says:

    Morons. Yeah my fear is terrorists may hack my refrigerator.

  14. Sean Sanders says:

    I think the Russians hacked my leftover meatloaf!

    1. And, THAT Is The Idiocy Of “The Internet Of Things’. SECURITY!

  15. When your new Jura Superautomatic goes all Skynet on you.

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