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Mandatory Security Implementation for Z-Wave IoT Devices Takes Effect

By Ken Briodagh April 04, 2017

In November 2016, the Z-Wave Alliance Board of Directors voted to mandate that all Z-Wave devices submitted for certification must include its advanced Security 2 (S2) framework, and the deadline was April 2.

The Z-Wave Alliance is an open consortium of global companies that are deploying the Z-Wave smart home standard, and, according to a recent announcement, it will now require strict and uniform adoption of a new security protocol for all Z-Wave devices receiving certification. The Alliance is calling its S2 standard the most advanced security for smart home devices and controllers, gateways and hubs in the market today.

According to a 2016 AT&T study, 58 percent of companies reported they were not confident in the security of connected devices. Other consumer studies have shown that security and privacy are major concerns among those looking to adopt smart home technology. The Z-Wave Alliance reportedly has been working for several years with chipmaker Sigma Designs to develop these security standards for all Z-Wave devices as IoT expands into homes around the globe.

“We are absolutely committed to making Z-Wave the safest, most secure ecosystem of smart devices on the global market,” said Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance, “Our work, in conjunction with the entire Alliance membership, will ensure that developers, service providers, manufacturers and consumers alike will look to Z-Wave as the most trusted solution with the highest levels of protection.”

Now, Z-Wave’s technical certification program, which is administered through third party test facilities in Europe, U.S. and Asia, will check that all S2 security solutions, which contain rules for command classes, timers and device types, are correctly implemented in every new certified device. S2 devices also must be backwards compatible with existing devices on the market.

The Z-Wave S2 framework was developed in conjunction with the cybersecurity community to give Z-Wave devices new levels of impenetrability. By securing communications both locally for home-based devices and in the hub or gateway for cloud functions, S2 is designed to remove the risk of devices being hacked while they are included in the network. By using a QR or pin-code on the device itself, the devices are authenticated to the network, and secure key exchange using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) seeks to stop common hacks such as man in the middle and brute force.

As one of the people who have been down on Z-Wave for some months, this is a welcome move toward better consumer protection and industry trust. Well played, Z-Wave Alliance. If this works as well as you hope, I’ll be having some tasty, tasty crow. 



Editorial Director

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