FTC Challenge: $25,000 To Create IoT Security Solution

A new challenge from the Federal Trade Commission is tapping consumers to solve connected home security vulnerabilities.

The IoT Home Inspector Challenge is specifically seeking to address the area of keeping IoT device software up to date in homes.

Although the rules and criteria are relatively open, the FTC says the ideal solution would be an add-on device for a home network that can automatically detect which devices are connected to the network, which version of software those devices are running and, if needed, automatically find and install software updates on the devices.

“Every day American consumers are offered innovative new products and services to make their homes smarter,” Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, said in statement.

“Consumers want these devices to be secure, so we’re asking for creativity from the public, the tinkerers, thinkers and entrepreneurs, to help them keep device software up-to-date,” she said.

The FTC says it is only looking for technical solutions from consumers, not policy or legal solutions, and the tools developed must work with current IoT devices and always protect the information collected and transmitted.

Solutions will be judged by a panel of security experts on how well they work, how user-friendly and how scalable they are.

Here are the main criteria for functionality:

  • Recognize connected devices in the home
  • Determine the version of software on those devices
  • Determine the latest version of software that should be on those devices
  • Assist in updating the software

Submissions that don’t meet any of those criteria can still win if the tool addresses security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software, according to the FTC.

The winning solution will be awarded $25,000 with up to three honorable mentions receiving $3,000 prizes and is set to be announced in July. The Challenge is open for submissions until May 22.

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