U.S. Senators Afraid the Internet of Things Will Turn on the Government

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Today, about 68% of funds lost as a result of a cyber attack are unrecoverable, and in a world of increasing reliance on the internet for day-to-day life, cyber threats are more dangerous than ever.

That’s something two U.S. lawmakers are making clear in their most recent proposals. They believe that the internet itself is the problem.

Last year hackers took advantage of smart home devices to shut down access to major websites like Spotify and Twitter. They did so by using what is termed the Internet of Things, a sort of all encompassing phrase for all web-connected devices. Simply put, hackers were able to corrupt smart washing machines, refrigerators, and other web-connected appliances to attack important online sites.

Because of this attack, a group of lawmakers in Congress is now getting to work to have the U.S. government build strong digital defense. Sen. Mark Warner from Virginia and Sen. Cory Gardner from Colorado are the two strongest voices. They’ve recently pushed out a bill titled “The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017.”

The bill is an attempt to force companies that sell web-connected tools to federal agencies to follow new security standards, ones that are separate from lax consumer standards. This is so that a tablet sold to, say, the FBI is not the same as a tablet sold to a family of four.

“With cybersecurity,” Warner told said, “You’ve got to constantly be upgrading your game. And what we’re saying with Internet of Things devices is, if you’ve got hard-coded passwords or they’re not able to be patched, because they’re cheaper or smaller devices, that can’t be standard protocol.”

The Senators have noted that the Internet of Things is growing rapidly, and that worries them due to the widespread availability and use of malware.

“If we turn around and there are 20 billion [IoT] devices in a couple years, and the federal has ‘x’ million of these devices, and they all have these characteristics, then, you know, I think we’re going to make a big mistake,” said Warner.

And as much as consumers love devices that connect to the internet, so too does the U.S. government. Federal agencies spent somewhere around $5 billion on sensors and data collectors from 2011 to 2015, all of which connect to the internet.

Sen. Warner admits that, as of this moment, “there’s actually no full, comprehensive accounting of the IoT (Internet of Things) devices that the U.S. government owns or operates.”

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