Senate passes IoT cybersecurity bill

The legislation mandates minimum security requirements on internet of things devices bought by the federal government.

IoT fuels next-gen law enforcement

The Senate yesterday by unanimous consent passed legislation to mandate certain security requirements for internet of things devices purchased by the federal government, moving forward legislation that had been stalled on Capitol Hill since 2017.

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act was passed by the House in September. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) were the sponsors. The Senate passed the bill on Nov. 17 without amendments meaning the legislation can be sent to the president.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), co-chairs of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, have been backing versions of the legislation since 2017.

"While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security," Warner said in a statement following the vote. "I urge the president to sign this bill into law without delay."

Gardner added that "experts expect tens of billions of devices" to be operating on networks in the coming years.

"We need to make sure these devices are secure from malicious cyber-attacks as they continue to transform our society and add countless new entry points into our networks, particularly when they are integrated into the federal government's networks," Gardner said.

The legislation will likely be one of the last that Gardner ushers through the Senate having lost his Nov. 3 re-election to former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (D).

If signed into law by the president, the bill will task the National Institute of Standards and Technology with issuing recommendations for secure development, identity management, patching and configuration management for IoT devices. The Office of Management and Budget would be required to issue guidelines to federal agencies that are consistent with NIST's recommendations.

NIST would also be directed to work with the Department of Homeland Security and outside experts to "publish guidelines on vulnerability disclosure and remediation for federal information systems," according to the senators' statement.