IoXt Alliance: More Security for Smart Speakers

Despite safety concerns, intelligent loudspeakers are spreading rapidly around the world – and the trend is rising. Verifiable cybersecurity is provided by the ioXt Alliance, which has now appointed a further test laboratory.

ioXt Alliance, Foto: DEKRA

Making IoT devices more secure, defining common standards – these are the approaches pursued by the ioXt Alliance. Photo: DEKRA

Market researchers agree that smart speakers will become increasingly important in the future. According to the German market research institute, Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), i.e. consumer research association, almost every second user listens to news, weather, and traffic reports. More than a third of users ask for answers to general knowledge questions. Listening to music, streaming services, or the control of lamps, heating, or shutters are also popular applications. According to Strategy Analytics, smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Apple dominate the global market with a 59 percent share, followed by Baidu, Alibaba, and Xiaomi.

Mulit-talents in the IoT

But language assistants can do much more, since they’re actually designed to operate in the Internet of Things (IoT). It enables physical and virtual objects to be networked. Smart speakers can also be used for online shopping by voice. Other applications are also possible, such as networking household and home entertainment devices, or digital energy management and security solutions for the home. And even outside a user’s own four walls, in particular from their vehicle, services can be called up and controlled by voice command.

What about security?

Despite increasing distribution, negative headlines about smart speakers are still appearing. The accusation: manufacturers such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and others are too lax with private data. Researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and the Bochum Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection have found that smart speakers also switch on unintentionally. They react to keywords, misinterpret them, and transmit them to the respective speaker manufacturer – a risk to privacy.

ioXt Alliance for Smart Device Security

Making IoT devices more secure, defining common standards – these are the approaches pursued by the ioXt Alliance, founded in 2018. Companies such as Amazon, Google, T-Mobile, Facebook, Schneider Electric, and 50 others are working on this. The common goal: to increase the confidence of consumers and retailers in a networked world.

Security Pledge

The members of the ioXt Alliance have adopted the “Security Pledge”, which comprises eight principles. Products certified by the ioXt Alliance must meet features such as security, verifiable device standards, and upgradeability. In concrete terms, this means that IoT device manufacturers must do without universal passwords in their products. They must provide them with secure interfaces, proven encryption methods, standard security settings, and authorized software updates, and offer automatic updates as well as a damage reporting program. And inform users when security updates are available.

Certification program for manufacturers

Authorized Labs are independent test labs that verify whether devices meet the ioXt security requirements. These include 7Layers, Nccgroup, and DTG, and, most recently, DEKRA with its test laboratory in Malaga, Spain. “We’re delighted to add DEKRA as an Authorized Lab, a leading automotive and cybersecurity company for testing, certification, and inspection services whose expertise is valuable to the ioXt Alliance,” said Brad Ree, CTO of the ioXt Alliance.

Broad spectrum

In addition to intelligent loudspeakers, DEKRA now tests and certifies Android devices, cameras, lighting, infotainment for motor vehicles, as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. Fernando E. Hardasmal, Executive Vice President Product Division Product Testing at DEKRA, highlighted the recognition of the ioXt Alliance as “a fantastic opportunity to further expand our portfolio of cybersecurity services for global IoT manufacturers in close cooperation with the ioXt Alliance and its members. DEKRA continues to invest in the development of cybersecurity services, including testing and certification services via the DEKRA Cybersecurity Hub and several DEKRA service departments, demonstrating a strong commitment to the security market.”

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