Philipp Katzenberger

A deep dive into security with KNX

06 November 2019

How does an international standard for home automation implement security in its software?

Last year over 800 million smart devices were sold worldwide and sales for smart light bulbs alone amounted to €7 billion. It is safe to say the smart home evolution has reached maturity and will most likely only intensify over the coming years. Now that smart devices are becoming ever more ubiquitous in European households the matter of security equally moves to the forefront.

In this article we look to KNX, one of the home automation pioneers, to see how they tackle the issue in everything they do. With tens of thousands of households and organisations relying on KNX for their automation needs the industry standard has a long track record in researching, developing and rolling out constantly evolving security protocols.


The need for security

Earlier this year both Amazon and Google came under fire when it became apparent that conversations were recorded through their Alexa and Home devices and that thousands of their employees had access to listen in. And just last month a study by researchers of the University of Texas San Antonio highlighted the risks of security gaps in smart light bulbs. A significant number of smart light bulbs appear to be penetrable, leaving other private data vulnerable to access. Can we learn lessons from a major industry standard with regards to security of smart homes and devices?

KNX secure offers a double protection

As a home automator for decades now, KNX has vast experience with the issue of security. With the rise of more connected automation it introduced KNX Secure and is committed to tackling the security challenges of home automation.

KNX Secure offers a double protection against intruders. The aim is to protect user data against unauthorized access and manipulation by encryption on the one hand and authentication on the other.

KNX IP Secure ensures that only authorized people (your installer, yourself...) can access and modify your setup. But what if a hacker does get to see your data? KNX Data Secure makes sure that all data is encrypted –with the same encryption level as the banks use for their operations- so that the attacker has the lowest possible insight into your actual data to prevent abuse.

A commitment of all parties involved

Moreover, KNX constantly tries to assist and support professionals (installers, electrician, system integrators) to configure secure smart home setups. By providing documentation (for example this KNX secure checklist), webinars and offline events, KNX shares their knowledge and research on security to their community of certified KNX professionals. Their commitment is needed for a secure smart home industry.

KNX strives to be one of the most secure smart home technologies in the world. KNX Secure is an essential part of our technology so that an installation running on KNX is a safe option for your home.

Casto Canavate - KNX Marketing Director

The organisation adds that it is the responsibility of all manufacturers developing devices on the KNX platform to focus on security as a core requirement.

In our opinion companies developing standalone smart devices should look at more established standards to develop security protocols that aim for maximum security. Only then can smart home automation continue to legitimately grow into a daily part of our lives.

Further reading