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Internet wonks call it the Internet of Things, or IoT—those everyday devices, gadgets and appliances that connect to the web. They are vulnerable. An October hacking of hundreds of thousands of “things”—including cameras and digital video recorders—disrupted the web.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to do something about it—and you can help. The agency on Wednesday announced the latest in a series of cash-reward contests for solutions to protect personal data.

Five years ago, the FTC used a public contest to solicit new ways to block automated phone calls. Today, it’s the scourge of “hacking.”

“Every day American consumers are offered innovative new products and services to make their homes smarter,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said in a 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.”

The agency calls its latest contest the “IoT home Inspector Challenge.” Contestants can win prizes of up to $25,000 for the best technical solution, and up to $3,000 for three honorable mention winners.

The agency said the IoT is an array of billions of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the internet and it is expanding rapidly as consumers adopt applications for health and fitness monitors, home security devices, connected cars and appliances, among other items.

To deal with security vulnerabilities, the agency suggests “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.”

The contest opens for submissions March 1 and closes May 22 at noon. Winners will be announced in late July. The judges will make a first cut of up to 20 contestants in the first round. Two more rounds will follow where detailed explanations will be considered for the top prizes.

The IoT challenge is the agency’s fourth government contest under the America Competes Act, and the first to address IoT issues.

The robocall contest triggered litigation as well as innovative solutions to those sales pitches.

David Frankel, a Silicon Valley engineer who thought he had a winning submission but lost the competition, sued the agency over the way the contest was scored. His suit went up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled against him in December. The agency announced the winners in April 2013.

 

Copyright National Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Internet wonks call it the Internet of Things, or IoT—those everyday devices, gadgets and appliances that connect to the web. They are vulnerable. An October hacking of hundreds of thousands of “things”—including cameras and digital video recorders—disrupted the web.

The Federal Trade Commission wants to do something about it—and you can help. The agency on Wednesday announced the latest in a series of cash-reward contests for solutions to protect personal data.

Five years ago, the FTC used a public contest to solicit new ways to block automated phone calls. Today, it’s the scourge of “hacking.”

“Every day American consumers are offered innovative new products and services to make their homes smarter,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said in a 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.”

The agency calls its latest contest the “IoT home Inspector Challenge.” Contestants can win prizes of up to $25,000 for the best technical solution, and up to $3,000 for three honorable mention winners.

The agency said the IoT is an array of billions of everyday objects sending and receiving data over the internet and it is expanding rapidly as consumers adopt applications for health and fitness monitors, home security devices, connected cars and appliances, among other items.

To deal with security vulnerabilities, the agency suggests “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.”

The contest opens for submissions March 1 and closes May 22 at noon. Winners will be announced in late July. The judges will make a first cut of up to 20 contestants in the first round. Two more rounds will follow where detailed explanations will be considered for the top prizes.

The IoT challenge is the agency’s fourth government contest under the America Competes Act, and the first to address IoT issues.

The robocall contest triggered litigation as well as innovative solutions to those sales pitches.

David Frankel, a Silicon Valley engineer who thought he had a winning submission but lost the competition, sued the agency over the way the contest was scored. His suit went up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled against him in December. The agency announced the winners in April 2013.

 

Copyright National Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.