Zigbee and Z-Wave contribute to cybersecurity
Source: Elvina Yang
Low-energy radio waves in a smart home, including Zigbee and Z-Wave
, are providing smart home security from a communication protocol perspective. They encrypt transmitted data and device pairings. It is suggested customers get rid of default usernames and passwords, as well as research products before purchases.
Smart home devices communicate with each other via several connection protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,
Zigbee and Z-Wave. A smart home hub, which supports multiple connection protocols, sits in the center and enables devices to work together. For example, an Amazon Echo Plus Zigbee supported smart speaker controls a Zigbee-supported Philips Hue light bulb. Due to low-energy radio waves, protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave are often favorably used in a smart home rather than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Their security standards also help improve cybersecurity in a smart home.
Zigbee: research before purchases
Zigbee 3.0, the protocol’s latest security standard, was created as an enhanced IEEE 802.15.4 technical standard by adding mesh networking and security layers along with an application framework.
In terms of security benefits, Zigbee 3.0 supports the industry standard AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 128-bit key to encrypt homeowners’ sensitive data and defend against attacks. It has also added the option of using device-specific preconfigured link keys and installation codes, which allows developers to generate trust center link keys instead of well-known keys.
“As the bearer of open wireless standards, the Zigbee Alliance
works across its global membership to constantly pool expertise from various sectors of the market and best address how to protect smart homes and related environments as our connected world continues to evolve,” said Chris LaPrè, Solutions Architect of Zigbee Alliance.
To prevent a home system from being hacked, LaPrè suggested consumers should research the devices before a purchase is made. “Make sure that if there is an operating system, then there are login protections such as a random password, the ability to set a unique password, or support for multifactor login and authentication.”
LaPrè said advanced homeowners should consider using network routers that support creating segregated SSIDs and VLANs, allowing them to keep the devices that may not be trusted separated from the rest of the network. For instance, users can separate out devices that just need cloud access. They can use the VLAN to split up devices on wired networks as well as use SSID on Wi-Fi-connected devices.
Z-Wave: update default settings
Z-Wave Security 2 (S2) framework, the latest security standard of Z-Wave, focuses on the authentication of the device layer, aiming to keep hackers from taking control of home gadgets. The Z-Wave protocol uses S2 to encrypt data sent between devices, such as sensors, cameras or thermostats. Furthermore, S2 uses unique PIN or QR codes on the devices to pair authenticated devices.
“S2 defends against common attacks such as man-in-the-middle and brute force through the implementation of the industry-wide accepted secure key exchange Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECHD), which makes it impossible to decipher the network key,” said Mitchell Klein, Executive Director of Z-Wave Alliance.
Klein recommended homeowners look for the Z-Wave logo on the box to ensure specific devices have been certified by the Z-Wave Alliance and perform the security standard. “The Z-Wave protocol has been designed to be backwards compatible Mitchell Klein, Executive Director, Z-Wave Alliance Chris LaPrè, Solutions Architect, Zigbee Alliance and work with all devices introduced to our growing product ecosystem, thus products chosen today will always be compatible with future product choices,” said Klein.
Homeowners can also implement a complicated and strong network and Wi-Fi
password, and modify their routers’ default admin credentials. When the username and password are both “admin,” hackers can easily access the system with common knowledge. Updating default settings makes it more difficult for someone to access the system.
“Even with a secure Z-Wave ecosystem in place, consumers must still take action to ensure their home network is secure, as that is the most likely point of cyber intrusion in to the home,” said Klein.