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Thingamabob to Secure Internet of Things in Your Castle Desperately Needed

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The Internet of Things has billions of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the internet like health and fitness monitors, home security devices, connected cars and household appliances. It holds many potential benefits for consumers, but also raises numerous privacy and security concerns that could undermine consumer confidence. 

The Federal Trade Commission is challenging the public to create an innovative tool that will help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in the software of home devices connected to the Internet of Things. The agency is offering a cash prize of up to $25,000 for the best technical solution, with up to $3,000 available for up to three honorable mention winner(s).

The FTC is asking IoT Home Inspector Challenge contestants to develop a tool that would address security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software in IoT devices. An ideal tool might be a physical device that the consumer can add to his or her home network that would check and install updates for other IoT devices on that home network, or it might be an app or cloud-based service, or a dashboard or other user interface.

Contestants also have the option of adding features such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords.

Submissions will be accepted as early as March 1, 2017 and are due May 22, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced on or about July 27, 2017.

Up to 20 contestants will be selected in the first round, where judges will only assess the contestants’ videos and abstracts without the detailed explanation. Qualifying contestants will then move on to the next and final round where the detailed explanations will be considered for a chance to win the top prize of $25,000 or $3,000 for honorable mention.

An expert panel of five judges will judge the contest.

This the FTC’s fourth government contest under the America COMPETES Act, and the first one addressing IoT issues. In 2015, the FTC hosted robocall contests in partnership with Pindrop Security and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

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