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5 questions to AV-TEST Germany: This is what customers should pay attention to when it comes to IoT and smart home security

Stay Secure 20.05.2021 | Christine Deniz

Update April 2022

Electronic door locks are a tangible source of convenience in everyday life. One of the most important aspects of this is security. Because it’s not just about making access to your home more practical. You have to be able to trust the access system before you can feel comfortable.

In keeping with our guiding principles SMART – SIMPLE – SECURE, the security of our smart home products is a top priority. When developing our digital Nuki door locks, we used a highly complex end-to-end encryption system right from the very start – the kind also used in online banking.

Nuki has passed again external reviews by AV-TEST

Any security concept, no matter how sophisticated, is of course no substitute for testing by independent, external testing institutes. We therefore had our products checked once again by AV-TEST Germany for possible security vulnerabilities.
Just like in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the renowned research institute for IT security once again certified Nuki as a secure smart home product this year.
This year, AV-TEST inspected the Nuki Smart Lock, the Nuki Bridge, the Nuki app and the Nuki Opener.

The Nuki Button, the heart of the Smart Door, certified as an “Approved Smart Home Product” by AV-TEST

In June 2021, we launched the Nuki Button, which makes it possible to integrate Nuki technology directly into a motorised door. This in turn led to the creation of a Nuki Smart Door in collaboration with our partners in door manufacturing. Like with all Nuki products, we also submitted the Nuki Button to the AV-TEST Institute for independent testing. We are proud to announce that the Nuki Button has been certified as an “Approved Smart Home Product”. Commenting on the positive test result, AV-TEST said: “Overall, the Nuki Smart Door, like the manufacturer’s other products, performed very well in all our test areas. The Nuki Smart Door is created by integrating the Nuki Button directly into the inner side of your door. With that said, we are happy to issue the “Approved Smart Home Product” certificate for the Nuki Smart Door.

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Interview with AV-TEST – what really matters when it comes to smart home security

Interview with AV-TEST – what really matters when it comes to smart home security

What is actually involved in an IT security test? What are common weak spots in IoT products? What should you pay particular attention to? And in which areas did Nuki do particularly well?
We invited Eric Clausing from AV-TEST to a short interview:

1. What are the most common security weak spots in smart home products? What do you have to pay particular attention to as a customer?
Eric Clausing: In our experience, the most common and critical problems arise in communication security. We repeatedly see unencrypted connections used in this area for transmitting sensitive data over the internet. We also see unsafe authentication mechanisms or even the lack of mechanisms altogether just as frequently.

As a customer, it is difficult to determine without additional technical aids whether encryption has been implemented, and how well. As far as secure authentication is concerned, the customer should make sure that the product offers the possibility to secure access to devices and accounts with strong and changeable passwords.

2. What kinds of external attacks are there, and how can you protect yourself against them? What challenges do manufacturers have to face in the field of IoT?
Eric Clausing: Attacks on the availability of IoT systems (jamming) represent, among other things, the greatest danger to customers – e.g. if an alarm system no longer works or a smart lock is no longer accessible. In practice, there is not much that the manufacturer can do to counter such attacks, since radio can always be disrupted, or devices can be deliberately destroyed. A good system should at least be able to reliably detect a component failure and report it to the customer so that they can react.

Apart from that, attacks on the authentication and access mechanisms of an IoT device are the most dangerous. In the worst case, they can also be carried out remotely and lead to third parties gaining access to the IoT product itself and the linked accounts. This is where the greatest potential for damage and the most immediate threat lies. The manufacturers should therefore focus on securing their devices.

Interview with AV-TEST – what really matters when it comes to smart home security

3. What tests does a product have to undergo in order to obtain certification?
Eric Clausing: Products that are submitted to the certification test must undergo a comprehensive test. This is divided into three large sub-areas and over 100 individual test points.
The main points include

  • the analysis of communication, both online via the internet and locally via Bluetooth, for example,
  • the analysis of the associated mobile applications for Android and iOS, and
  • the analysis of data protection.

All areas are checked statically, i.e. through extensive scans and code reviews, as well as dynamically, i.e. during operation, for possible weak spots and potential entry points. A practically exploitable weak spot or a critical failure in one of the three main areas inevitably leads to the failure of the entire certification process.

4. Which aspects does Nuki perform particularly well in and why?
Eric Clausing: In our tests, the Nuki products have performed well in all 3 main areas for years: All communication – both local and via the internet – has always been safely encrypted and secured. The mobile applications have never given cause for criticism either. The exemplary, data-minimising implementation of the products as well as an outstanding and transparent privacy policy are particularly striking elements.

5. What trends are there in the field of IoT, and what will AV-TEST pay particular attention to in future test procedures?
Eric Clausing: Over the past few years, we have observed that the issue of data protection and privacy has become increasingly important among buyers. With that in mind, we are also adapting our tests in this direction so that we can also offer more extensive and detailed testing and evaluation in this area in the future. Of course, security will still remain our main focus.

You can find the detailed test report on the website of AV-TEST

Do you have any further questions about IT security in general and the security of smart home devices or smart locks in particular? We have collected the most frequently asked customer questions and addressed them clearly and in detail for you in the following article.

Christine Deniz
I belong to those who claim to "not really know their way around technology". It is therefore important to me that complex processes are presented in an understandable and simple way. What fascinates me about Smart Lock technology is the fact that it not only replaces the key - the central element of a home - but also extends it. An innovation for everyone, not just for techies.