Earlier this year the FTC launched the IoT Home Inspector Challenge competition to challenge innovators to create a tool that will help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in the software of home IoT devices.  Submissions were received in May and reviewed by a panel of five judges, including security experts from a range of private companies, universities and the government.  The FTC announced the winners on July 26, 2017.

The FTC awarded Steve Castle the $25,000 prize for his proposal for a mobile app, “IoT Watchdog.”  Mr. Castle’s proposed app would help users with limited technical expertise to manage the IoT devices in their homes by scanning their home WiFi and Bluetooth networks to identify and inventory connected devices.  It would then flag devices with out-of-date software and other common vulnerabilities and provide instructions on how to update each device’s software and fix other vulnerabilities.

The FTC awarded an honorable mention and $3,000 to a team that proposed an alternative method of securing home networks from vulnerable IoT devices.  That team was led by BJ Black and Michael Birmingham.  Their proposal was a tool called “Persistent Internal Network Containment” (PINC) that uses virtual networks to isolate each device on a home network so that consumers can monitor and manage devices.