FTC Launches $30,000-Plus IoT Security Contest

The Federal Trade Commission has focused attention on the need for addressing the vulnerabilities in out-of-date IoT software, but now is putting its money where its concern is.

The FTC says it will pay up to $25,000 for the most innovative tool to protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in home Internet of Things devices, plus $3,000 apiece for up to three honorable mentions.

The IoT Home Inspector Challenge is looking for various approaches, including a device that would check for and install updates on home networks or an app, cloud-based service or dashboard.

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

The announcement comes as FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez is at the CES show in Las Vegas, where connected technology is much in evidence and where she is speaking.

Submissions will be accepted starting March 1, 2017, through May 22, 2017. Winners will be announced in July. Initial submissions will be videos or abstracts. Once those have been winnowed down, the remainder will have to provide detailed explanations for a shot at the prize money.

The money was freed up for the purpose by the America COMPETES Act.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.