FTC Blogs

Innovation citation: FTC announces winners of IoT Home Inspector Challenge

Internet of Things entrepreneurs are developing products to help keep households running smoothly. But like anyone else you invite into your home, it’s important that IoT devices – appliances, fitness monitors, home security systems, etc. – behave like good houseguests. Out-of-date software can pose a particular problem. One IoT device without software updates can present its own security risks, of course, but it also can introduce vulnerabilities elsewhere on the home network.

The Winner of the IoT Home Inspector Challenge is…

Internet of Things (IoT) devices have made our lives easier. You can now set your slow cooker to the right temperature while you’re at work. Lightbulbs can be programmed to flick on while you’re away. Even washing machines and garden sprinklers are hyper-connected. But for all of the ease and convenience of these IoT devices, there is a flip side: security risks. That’s why, this past January, we asked for your help through the IoT Home Inspector Challenge. The contest challenged entrants to develop a tool that would help address security issues caused by out-of-date software in IoT devices. We knew there were innovators out there with big ideas, and you delivered.

Dietary supplement concerns? Tell the FTC and FDA

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have enforcement programs to protect consumers from false and misleading claims about the safety and benefits of products marketed as dietary supplements. Both agencies have authority over the marketing of these products.

What we heard: military consumer financial issues

When you want to know what’s going on with a group, you go directly to the source, right? That’s exactly what the FTC did last week when it held a Military Consumer Financial Workshop in San Antonio, Texas. The day’s purpose was to take a look at the financial issues and scams that can affect military consumers – active duty servicemembers, veterans, and their families.

Do you own a business? We want to hear from you.

Under Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen’s leadership, we are prioritizing outreach and education for small businesses on data security issues. For example, we recently launched a site with resources to help small businesses stay ahead of the latest scams, reduce the risk of cyber threats, and respond in case of a data breach. Tools like these put easy-to-understand, practical tips in businesses’ hands. We’re also talking to business owners to learn more about their cyber security challenges. If your business has just a few employees we’re interested in hearing about the challenges you face dealing with cyber threats and data security, and which issues you’re most interested in getting information about.

FTC proud of service to America

Every year, the Partnership for Public Service awards Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (the “Sammies” – or kind of the Oscars for feds) to highlight excellence in the federal workforce, and programs that make the country better, safer and stronger. This year, the FTC is proud to be a finalist in the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Category, for our team’s work in creating IdentityTheft.gov. (Please vote for the People’s Choice.) But we’re just as proud that the FTC’s work is represented in three of the four finalists in that category.

The price of free software?

Has your computer been acting strange lately? Maybe your default search engine or other browser settings changed, or you’re getting suspicious warnings about your computer’s performance. Are you are seeing ads that don’t seem to belong – like ones that cover up parts of the webpage or are on a site that doesn’t usually show ads? If so, you may have unwanted software on your computer. Your next step: get rid of any malware.