Long-awaited IoT security bill heads to president’s desk

While the legislation targets agency use of internet-of-things devices, it will likely push the broader IoT market toward greater cybersecurity.

The Senate passed a bill to secure 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 and by the Senate without amendments on Nov 17. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) were the sponsors.

While the legislation targets agency use of IoT devices, it will likely push the broader IoT market toward greater cybersecurity, according to a statement by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who 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," Sen. Mark Warner (D.Va.) 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.

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.

This article was first posted to FCW, a Defense Systems partner site.