The Digitalist Team
June 28, 2023

Most Important Parts of ETSI EN 303 645 Standard: Enhancing Cybersecurity for Consumer IoT Devices‍


min reading time

The proliferation of consumer IoT (Internet of Things) has brought numerous conveniences to our lives but has also introduced new cybersecurity challenges. In 2019 the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) recognized this need and developed the ETSI EN 303 645 standards, the first global standard focusing on cybersecurity for consumer IoT devices. This article will explore the critical aspects of the ETSI EN 303 645 standard and its significance in protecting against potential cyber threats.

With the increasing number of internet-connected devices in homes, ensuring the cybersecurity of consumer IoT has become a growing concern. As more and more people rely on a larger range of online devices and services, the protection of their personal data becomes crucial. Previously offline products and appliances are now connected, necessitating robust design to withstand cyber threats. 

To address new challenges, it is important for manufacturers and other stakeholders to implement robust cybersecurity measures and follow relevant regulations and standards, such as the ETSI EN 303 645. This can help to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and ensure the security of consumer IoT devices.

Ensuring the cybersecurity of the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a growing concern. Source: Freepik

About ETSI EN 303 645

ETSI EN 303 645 is the first globally applicable Cybersecurity Standard for Consumer IoT Devices. Consumer IoT Products are internet-connected devices that any person can have at home nowadays. 

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard covers consumer IoT devices that are connected to network infrastructure and their interactions with associated services, like smart tv’s, CCTV cameras, speakers, connected home automation devices, consumer IoT gateways, base stations, HUBs, wearable health trackers, baby monitors, IoMT devices, connected home appliances like smart refrigerators and washing machines, or connected alarm systems, door locks, smoke detectors, among many others. 

According to McKinsey, the web-hosting services marketplace is projected to reach $183.18 billion by 2026. To bolster the security of their products, consumer IoT device manufacturers should adhere to the guidelines and requirements outlined in ETSI EN 303 645. 

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard comprehensively covers vital aspects of consumer IoT device security, including password management, vulnerability disclosure, software updates, secure communication, attack surface reduction, data protection, and system resilience, among others.

ETSI EN 303 645 Requirements

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard encompasses 33 security requirements and 35 recommendations to be implemented in consumer IoT devices. By implementing these guidelines, manufacturers can ensure that their devices meet the necessary security standards and provide consumers with a safer and more secure consumer IoT ecosystem. We explore some of the most essential requirements outlined in the ETSI EN 303 645 standards in more detail.

No Universal Default Passwords

The requirement of eliminating universal default passwords is a crucial step in enhancing the cybersecurity of consumer IoT devices. Default passwords, often common or well-known across multiple devices, present a significant vulnerability. 

Hackers can quickly gain unauthorized access to devices with default passwords, compromising the privacy and security of users. A few examples of default passwords that were commonly used in the past, but should no longer be utilized due to security risks:

  • "admin" or "admin123": This is a common default password for many types of devices, including routers, network switches, and web-based interfaces.
  • "password" or "123456": These are frequently used as default passwords for various devices and online accounts, despite being easily guessable and weak.
  • "guest" or "guest123": Some consumer IoT devices, such as wireless access points or smart home devices, may have default passwords like "guest" to provide temporary access. However, these passwords should be changed immediately for security reasons.
  • "admin1234" or "adminadmin": These passwords are also used as default credentials for administrative access to devices and systems.
  • "1234" or "0000": Some simple devices, such as digital locks or keypads, may come with default passwords like these, which should be changed immediately to prevent unauthorized access.

These examples are given to highlight the issue of default passwords and their associated risks. However, manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of the security concerns and are taking steps to eliminate default passwords altogether or enforce strong password requirements upon device setup.

To comply with the ETSI EN 303 645 standards, manufacturers must ensure that their consumer IoT devices do not come with default or generic passwords. Devices can have a pre-configured password, which is unique per device.

Instead, users should be prompted to set unique and robust passwords during the initial setup process. This requirement ensures that each device has a password specific to the user, making it more challenging for malicious actors to guess or crack the password. In addition to eliminating default passwords, educating users about password security is essential to follow the ETSI EN 303 645 standards. 

Manufacturers should provide clear instructions and guidelines on creating strong passwords, emphasizing combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Another aspect that must be considered is the length and complexity of these combinations. Educating users about regular password updates is also crucial, as it helps reinforce the need to maintain strong security practices.

Implement a Means to Manage Reports of Vulnerabilities

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard mandates establishing a vulnerability disclosure policy to facilitate identifying and addressing weaknesses. This policy provides a precise mechanism for users, security researchers, and others to report risks they discover. 

Manufacturers must also ensure a timely response, assessment, and mitigation process for identified susceptibilities, fostering a collaborative and proactive approach to security.

Timely response, assessment, and mitigation of identified vulnerabilities are essential to managing reports. Manufacturers should promptly acknowledge the receipt of vulnerability reports and initiate an assessment to evaluate the severity and impact of the reported risks. This assessment enables manufacturers to prioritize and allocate resources for addressing the vulnerabilities based on their potential risks.

Once these flaws are assessed, manufacturers must take immediate action to develop and deploy appropriate mitigation measures. This may involve releasing security patches or firmware updates to address the identified weaknesses.

Manufacturers should communicate the remediation process to the relevant stakeholders, including users, security researchers, and affected parties, to inform them about the progress and reassure them that their concerns are being addressed.

Educating users about the importance of updating their devices is paramount. Source: Freepik

Keep Software Updated

By implementing secure and authenticated mechanisms for delivering device updates, manufacturers can ensure that the updates are protected from tampering and unauthorized access. This ensures the integrity and authenticity of the updates, minimizing the risk of malicious modifications or exploitation during the update process. Educating users about the importance of updating their devices is paramount to enhancing consumer IoT devices’ overall security posture. 

Manufacturers should provide clear instructions and guidelines on updating the devices, making the process user-friendly and accessible. This helps users understand the significance of updates and motivates them to apply the latest security patches and firmware releases promptly.

Regular updates address known vulnerabilities and introduce security improvements to mitigate potential risks. They also enable manufacturers to stay ahead of emerging threats by continuously monitoring and addressing new security challenges. By keeping devices up to date, users benefit from enhanced protection against evolving cybersecurity threats, ensuring their devices remain resilient and secure.

In addition to addressing security concerns, firmware updates can provide performance enhancements, new features, and bug fixes. Educating users about these additional benefits encourage them to update their devices, improving their experience and satisfaction regularly.

Educating users about additional benefits encouraging them to update their devices. Source: Freepik

Securely Store Sensitive Security Parameters

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard places significant importance on protecting sensitive security parameters, such as encryption keys, within consumer IoT devices. To achieve this, manufacturers are encouraged to implement robust encryption algorithms that protect against unauthorized access or decryption attempts. 

To safeguard these sensitive parameters, manufacturers are advised to utilize secure storage mechanisms, such as hardware security modules (HSMs) or trusted execution environments (TEEs). 

These hardware-based solutions provide an added layer of protection by isolating sensitive data and cryptographic operations from the rest of the device's software and hardware components. By utilizing HSMs or TEEs, manufacturers can ensure that encryption keys and other critical security parameters remain secure and resist unauthorized extraction or tampering attempts.

Proper key management practices play a crucial role in enhancing the overall security of consumer IoT devices. Manufacturers should follow secure procedures for key generation, ensuring that keys are generated using reliable and cryptographically strong algorithms.

Additionally, strict control measures should be in place for key storage, limiting access to authorized personnel only and employing encryption techniques to protect stored keys from unauthorized disclosure.

Secure disposal of keys is equally essential to prevent potential security breaches. When keys are no longer needed, manufacturers must ensure they are effectively erased from memory or storage devices. Secure disposal techniques, such as cryptographic key wiping or physical destruction of storage media, can be employed to ensure that the keys cannot be recovered or used maliciously.

Communicate Securely

Establishing secure communication channels is a fundamental requirement outlined in the ETSI EN 303 645 standards to safeguard sensitive data transmitted over networks in consumer IoT devices. This requirement aims to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of the data exchanged between devices and other entities in the consumer IoT ecosystem.

To ensure secure communication, the ETSI EN 303 645 standard recommends using encryption protocols, with Transport Layer Security (TLS) being a prominent example. 

TLS provides a robust and widely adopted framework for securing data transmission by encrypting the data and establishing a secure connection between communicating devices. By employing TLS, manufacturers can prevent unauthorized interception and eavesdropping of sensitive data as it travels across networks.

In addition to encryption, secure authentication mechanisms play a crucial role in verifying the identity of devices and users involved in consumer IoT communications. By implementing strong authentication protocols, manufacturers can reduce the risk of unauthorized access and protect against malicious entities attempting to impersonate legitimate devices or users. 

Robust authentication mechanisms and standards,  like ETSI EN 303 645, can be employed to validate communicating entities' identities and ensure that only authorized devices and users are granted access to sensitive resources or data.

Minimize Exposed Attack Surfaces

To reduce the potential attack vectors, manufacturers should conduct thorough risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities. The principle of least privilege should be applied, limiting device access and functionality to only necessary components. 

Manufacturers should implement appropriate firewall rules, network segmentation, and access control measures to minimize the attack surface of consumer IoT devices further. 

Firewalls act as a barrier between the device and external networks, filtering and monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic. Network segmentation involves dividing the device's network into smaller, isolated subnetworks, preventing lateral movement of threats within the network. Access control measures, such as strong authentication mechanisms and role-based access controls, ensure that only authorized individuals or devices can access critical resources or functionalities.

Secure boot mechanisms play a vital role in ensuring the integrity of the initial software/firmware load. Source: Freepik

Ensure Software Integrity

Unauthorized modification or tampering of software/firmware in consumer IoT devices can lead to serious security risks and compromises. ETSI EN 303 645 recognizes the importance of protecting against these threats and encourages manufacturers to implement robust measures to prevent unauthorized access and modification of software/firmware.

Secure boot mechanisms play a vital role in ensuring the integrity of the initial software/firmware load. By verifying the integrity and authenticity of the software/firmware during the boot process, manufacturers can prevent the execution of malicious or tampered code. Secure boot mechanisms establish a trusted and protected starting point for the device, enabling a secure foundation for subsequent operations.

Furthermore, code signing and verification techniques are essential for validating the authenticity and integrity of software/firmware updates. 

Manufacturers must ensure that only authorized and unmodified updates are installed on the device. The device can then verify the signature of the update to confirm its authenticity before applying it, protecting against the installation of compromised or malicious software/firmware.

Ensure That Personal Data is Secure

Given that consumer IoT devices often handle sensitive personal data, ETSI EN 303 645 highlights the need for manufacturers to prioritize data protection regulations and adopt privacy-by-design principles. 

Implementing robust data encryption measures during data transmission and when data is stored adds an extra layer of security and shields personal data from unauthorized access and potential breaches.

In addition to encryption, manufacturers should implement secure data handling practices to safeguard personal data. This includes establishing proper data access controls to limit access only to authorized individuals or systems. User consent mechanisms should also be in place to ensure that users have control over their personal data and can provide informed consent for its collection and processing.

Make Systems Resilient to Outages

To ensure the reliability and continuous operation of consumer IoT devices, manufacturers must incorporate redundancy and failover mechanisms into their designs. By implementing redundant components and systems, such as backup servers or redundant network connections, manufacturers can alleviate the impact of hardware or network failures and maintain uninterrupted device functionality.

Utilizing backup power sources, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), is essential to address power outages and prevent sudden device shutdowns.

UPS systems provide temporary power during outages, allowing consumer IoT devices to continue operating and reducing the risk of data loss or compromised security.

In line with the ETSI EN 303 645 standard, manufacturers should develop effective disaster recovery plans and backup strategies to restore regular operation in the event of system failures. These plans outline procedures for data recovery, system restoration, and the allocation of resources to minimize disruptions and quickly resume normal operations. 

By proactively preparing for potential failures, manufacturers can enhance the resilience and security of consumer IoT devices, ensuring their continuous operation and minimizing the potential impact of security risks.

Examine System Telemetry Data

Collecting and analyzing system telemetry data allows for identifying potential security issues or anomalies. Advanced monitoring and intrusion detection systems help detect suspicious activities and mitigate potential threats. 

Leveraging machine learning or AI algorithms to analyze telemetry data can enable the identification of patterns and potential threats, enhancing overall consumer IoT device security.

Advanced monitoring and intrusion detection systems help detect suspicious activities and mitigate potential threats. Source: Freepik

Make It Easy for Users to Delete Personal Data

Respecting user privacy, the ETSI EN 303 645 standard emphasizes the importance of providing users with clear and user-friendly mechanisms to delete their personal data. 

Manufacturers should ensure that data deletion is permanent and irreversible, empowering users to maintain control over their data. Educating users about their rights and options regarding data deletion and implementing robust data deletion processes foster trust and privacy in the consumer IoT ecosystem.

Manufacturers should also consider implementing data minimization practices to reduce the collection and retention of personal data to only what is necessary for the intended purpose. In accordance with the ETSI EN 303 645 standards, stakeholders can minimize the potential privacy risks associated with storing and processing personal data in consumer IoT devices by implementing data minimization strategies, such as anonymization or pseudonymization techniques.

Make Installation and Maintenance of Devices Easy

The ETSI EN 303 645 standard recommends simplifying consumer IoT devices' initial installation and configuration processes to encourage proper device setup and maintenance. 

Providing clear instructions and user-friendly interfaces eases the onboarding process for users. Additionally, offering remote management capabilities and over-the-air (OTA) updates facilitates device maintenance and management, ensuring that devices remain secure and up-to-date.

By simplifying the installation and configuration processes, manufacturers can reduce the likelihood of misconfigurations or errors that could compromise the security of consumer IoT devices. 

Remote management capabilities and OTA updates enable manufacturers to promptly address security vulnerabilities, deliver bug fixes, and introduce new security features, ensuring that devices can adapt to evolving threats and maintain a high level of security throughout their lifecycle.

How Can CCLab Help?

Complying with the ETSI EN 303 645 standards can be complex for manufacturers. As an agile cybersecurity laboratory, CCLab offers workshops tailored specifically for this purpose to assist in achieving compliance.

CCLab conducts thorough product assessments to identify any deficiencies between the existing security implementation and the provisions outlined in ETSI EN 303 645. 

CCLab's expertise extends to evaluating product documentation and conducting tests on devices based on the relevant provisions of the ETSI EN 303 645 standards. 

Through these assessments, CCLab helps manufacturers ensure that their products meet the defined criteria for compliance. This comprehensive approach ensures that manufacturers have a clear understanding of the standard's requirements and how to effectively implement them.

Upon successful completion of the compliance process, CCLab issues a Statement of Conformity, serving as an official validation of a product's compliance with the ETSI EN 303 645 standards. This certification not only demonstrates a manufacturer's commitment to security but also instills confidence in its customers and partners.

By leveraging CCLab's expertise and services, manufacturers can navigate the complexities of the ETSI EN 303 645 standards and achieve compliance effectively. This partnership empowers manufacturers to enhance the security of their consumer IoT devices and align with industry best practices for safeguarding user data and privacy.


The ETSI EN 303 645 standard is a comprehensive and crucial framework for enhancing the cybersecurity of consumer IoT devices. Its widespread applicability and focus on key security aspects make it a valuable tool for manufacturers, stakeholders, and users alike. 

By adhering to the guidelines and requirements outlined in ETSI EN 303 645, manufacturers can ensure that their devices meet necessary security standards, reducing the risk of cyber-attacks and providing consumers with a safer and more secure consumer IoT ecosystem. 

The standard covers a wide range of critical areas, including password management, vulnerability disclosure, software updates, secure communication, attack surface reduction, data protection, and system resilience, among others

With the increasing reliance on consumer IoT devices in our daily lives, the need for robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated.  The ETSI EN 303 645 standard serves as a vital resource in addressing this need and fostering a more secure and resilient consumer IoT environment. 

CClab can help manufacturers prioritize the implementation of ETSI EN 303 645 guidelines and work towards creating devices that prioritize user safety and data security. By doing so, they contribute to building a trustworthy and sustainable future for the consumer IoT industry.

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