Ever wish you could know how secure a device is before your purchase it? In a major step forward, Consumer Reports, the popular non-profit provider of product reviews, will now provide rankings for the cybersecurity of electronics and digital devices. Consumer Reports has joined with several other groups to form the Digital Standard. This collaborative group is actively working to develop a criteria and indicators to effectively rank security and privacy in the digital realm.
Standardizing cybersecurity is a complicated process, given the constantly evolving software programs, potential threats emerging from every corner, and the interconnected nature of the internet. The average person is often left befuddled when making decisions about how to protect their privacy and secure their devices. Awareness around cybersecurity issues has grown, but without reasonable tools or adequate training, actual security practices leave something to be desired. According to a Pew research study released earlier this year, 64% of Americans have experienced a major data breach, but 69% do not worry about how secure their passwords are.
Now that the Internet of Things is growing exponentially, there is a greater need than ever before for standards and guidelines for consumers. It would be unthinkable for an automaker to put a car on the road without rigorous safety tests, but with our digital lives, we seem much less concerned. Even with reports of baby monitors being hacked and private data from children’s toys available online, the rush to buy connected devices has hardly slowed.
While the Federal Trade Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been working to create and implement standards for both consumers and business, Consumer Reports and the new Digital Standard group will be a welcome addition to the field.