California passes law that bans default passwords in connected devices

Good news!

California has passed a law banning default passwords like “admin,” “123456,” and the old classic “password” in all new consumer electronics starting in 2020.

Every new gadget built in the state from routers to smart home tech will have to come with “reasonable” security features out of the box. The law specifically calls for each device to come with a preprogrammed password “unique to each device.”

It also mandates that any new device “contains a security feature that requires a user to generate a new means of authentication before access is granted to the device for the first time,” forcing users to change the unique password to something new as soon as it’s switched on for the first time.

Latest news:  True Ventures has two new funds totaling $635 million to plug into a wide range of startups

For years, botnets have utilized the power of badly secured connected devices to pummel sites with huge amounts of internet traffic — so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Botnets typically rely on default passwords that are hardcoded into devices when they’re built that aren’t later changed by the user. Malware breaks into the devices using publicly available default passwords, hijack the device, and ensnared the device into conducting cyberattacks without the user’s knowledge.

Latest news:  Samsung opens S Pen SDK to developers

Two years ago, the notorious Mirai botnet dragged thousands of devices together to target Dyn, a networking company that provides domain name service to major sites. By knocking Dyn offline, other sites that relied on its services were also inaccessible — like Twitter, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Mirai was a relatively rudimentary, albeit powerful botnet that relied on default passwords. This law is a step in the right direction to prevent these kinds of botnets, but falls short on wider security issues.

Other, more advanced botnets don’t need to guess a password because they instead exploit known vulnerabilities in Internet of Things devices — like smart bulbs, alarms, and home electronics.

Latest news:  Waze’s new audio player supports Pandora, Stitcher and more

As noted by others, the law as signed does not mandate device makers to update their software when bugs are found. The big device makers, like Amazon, Apple and Google, do update their software but many of the lesser-known brands do not.

Still, as it stands, the law is better than nothing — even if there’s room for improvement in the future.

Large DDoS attacks cause outages at Twitter, Spotify, and other sites

 botnets california Computer Security consumer electronics cybercrime electronics Hack malware Mirai Password Privacy Technology News

Close Menu