Consumer Software Security Assessment: Should We Follow NHTSA’s Lead?

Consumer Software Security Assessment: Should We Follow NHTSA's Lead?

November 28, 2023 at 04:14AM

The text discusses the need for a consumer software security organization similar to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It highlights the lack of safety standards for software and the need to protect consumers from digital crimes. The text suggests the creation of safety ratings for software and devices and emphasizes the importance of users reviewing default settings and taking responsibility for their own security. A simple safety rating system could help consumers understand how to keep themselves and their software secure.

Based on the meeting notes, there are several key takeaways:

1. The idea of creating an organization dedicated to consumer software security, similar to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has been proposed. This organization would aim to ensure that software meets basic security and safety standards and is user-friendly.

2. Currently, cars are required to meet basic safety standards before being sold to the public, but software does not have similar regulations. The meeting raised the question of how to make it easier for all Americans to protect themselves and their data from digital crimes.

3. Many software and device users are not aware of the potential security risks and privacy concerns they may face. Software and device manufacturers should warn users about the dangers of using default configurations and provide them with clear instructions and accessible information on how to enhance their security settings.

4. A rating system for software security could be beneficial. This system would consider factors such as past attacks on a particular operating system or application, the number of security patches required, the presence of encryption and authentication features, and the organization’s privacy practices. Such a rating system would allow consumers to make more informed decisions when choosing software and be aware of the trade-offs between functionality and security.

5. Users have a role to play in reviewing and modifying default settings of software and devices to enhance security and privacy. However, this task can be challenging for many users. Guides and resources to help users navigate important settings exist but are not widely read or utilized. A simple safety rating system aligned with cybersecurity policies could help ensure that users have a basic understanding of how to keep their software and devices safe and secure.

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