Thursday, May 23, 2024

    UK passes law banning ‘12345’ and ‘admin’ as default passwords

    As part the push to enhance cybersecurity for consumers, the UK government has become the first in Europe to effectively ban the use of simple passwords as defaults on any connected device

    The UK’s Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 (PSTI Act) has come in to force forcing all smart and connected device manufacturers to ship their devices to consumers with hard to crack default passwords, not standard ‘12345’ or ‘admin’ as has been the case previously.

    The Act also compels manufacturers to provide a point of contact for consumers to report security concerns around devices they have purchased, while they must also make clear for how long the products are eligible for over the air security updates.

    Not complying with these three rules is now a criminal offence for both domestic and overseas manufacturers, with the official punishment being a £10m fine or 4% of worldwide revenue, depending on which is highest.

    How it will be enforced, however, is less clear.

    According to The Register, the Act applies to any consumer smart device that either connects directly to the internet or to a home network. Such devices include:

    • Entertainment devices:Smart TV, streaming devices, smart speakers, games consoles, smartphones, and tablets with cellular connectivity
    • Home surveillance: Videodoorbells, home security cameras, and baby monitors
    • Home appliances: Light bulbs, plugs, ovens, fridges, washing machines, thermostats, kettles
    • Wearables such as fitness trackers and smart watches

    To coincide with the PSTI Act’s introduction, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued a leaflet explaining how to enhance device security, complete with its longstanding guidance to create passwords using three random words.

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