New Public Knowledge Paper Proposes Security Shield Label to Support Sustainable Cybersecurity

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Today, we’re happy to announce our newest white paper, “Security Shield: A Label to Support Sustainable Cybersecurity,” by Public Knowledge Cybersecurity Policy Director Megan Stifel and Policy Fellow Dylan Gilbert. The paper argues that the current first-to-market approach to connected technologies -- including Internet of Things devices -- has undermined public trust in these technologies and the internet, jeopardizing both our economy and democracy. To combat this, the paper proposes the creation of a “Security Shield” label to inform purchasers that a product has followed recognized best cybersecurity practices and should be more secure than similar products without such a label.

As the paper explains, providing consumer-facing labels to indicate which products are assessed to be more secure than others enables companies to compete on security in order to help differentiate their products. Doing so also empowers consumers to have an informed influence on the market, as a label would help consumers who prefer more secure products to find and purchase those items. In the same way that programs like “Energy Star” provide a means for manufacturers to incorporate and improve energy efficient designs, a labeling program for cybersecurity can encourage a secure-to-market approach for new devices and associated software. This will prove particularly important as the Internet of Things dramatically expands the number of internet-enabled devices over the next decade.

A security shield label for consumer Internet of Things devices is an important first step to foster sustainable cybersecurity practices and restore consumer trust in the marketplace.

The following can be attributed to Megan Stifel, Cybersecurity Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“A consumer doesn’t need an engineering degree to know we’ve entered the Internet of Things age. These connected technologies create virtually endless opportunities, provided users can trust them. Unfortunately, today’s first-to-market pressures require taking risks that tend to undermine consumer trust. As outlined in our white paper last year, there are a number of actions stakeholders across the internet can take to build a more resilient and sustainable internet for tomorrow. Adopting a label system for consumer Internet of Things products is one critical step among many. It should spur the market and build consumer trust while fostering a sustainable approach to cybersecurity in the Internet of Things ecosystem and beyond.

“As Congress considers legislation to advance consumer privacy and secure the Internet of Things, we encourage companies not to wait for governmental action to implement known best practices that could be later recognized by a Security Shield label.”

You may view the paper here. You may also view our latest blog post, “Security Shield: A Label to Educate Consumers and Promote Sustainable Cybersecurity,” for more information.

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