New laws for phone and smart device manufacturers

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

The Government’s Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DMCS) has announced new laws that will help users stay safe when using internet-connected devices.

The DMCS says,

“makers of smart devices including phones, speakers, and doorbells will need to tell customers upfront how long a product will be guaranteed to receive vital security updates”.

When you do a software update on your phone, laptop or other device, you cover holes in the system which have been found to be vulnerable to cyber criminals. Software developers include patches in the new version of the software to make it more resilient.

Keeping on top of these software updates is vitally important to reduce the chances of an attack.

But after a few years of owning a device, the manufacturer will usually stop supporting security updates. If you use automatic updates or don’t receive any notifications to install a new version of your software, you might not realise that it could be at risk.

To address this, a new law will mean tech companies must tell consumers how long their devices will be protected by software updates.

The DCMS report that

“almost half (49%) of UK residents have purchased at least one smart device since the start of the coronavirus pandemic”.

While items like smart watches, TVs and cameras can make our lives easier and more enjoyable, it’s wise to be aware of how to minimise the risk of hacking when adding another internet-connected device to your collection.

You can find further guidance on how to safely set up your smart devices in our resources section.