Security is something we all care about. The valuables in our homes and workplaces are generally things we keep an eye out for, whether it be by simply locking doors and safes or by using more sophisticated security systems.
However, the security of our devices is quite often overlooked. This is quite foolhardy on our part, as hacking has become a common and widespread thing of the 21st century.
It is no different for Z-Wave devices, units that are typically used in homes for wireless communications between appliances.
For the safety of these devices in our homes, it is important to learn about the security systems available. One such security system is the S2, which we shall look into below.
What Is Z-Wave S2?
S2 stands for Security 2 and works by providing different keys for the individual Z-wave devices used in the home, such as home security systems, lighting systems, temperature regulatory systems, etc.
These devices are also used in offices and in IP networks via cloud systems. Appliances are usually hacked into during the pairing process between them, and this is where the problem arose with the former security system, S0.
To counteract this, S2 security framework has been developed by the Silicone Lab company for providing superior protection against attackers.
Z-Wave Security 2 framework is overall an ecosystem that provides security to all the nodes it contains, hence making it a powerful protection system for all the individual smart appliances connected to it.
Difference between S0 and S2 Devices
Both S0 and S2 are security systems that keep the devices from getting hacked during the pairing process.
S0 devices use a key containing all zeroes while transmitting to user devices or nodes. This makes the device easier to attack due to the fact that anyone within the radio frequency range can quite easily procure the network key and use it to hack into any device on the system.
S2 devices, on the other hand, use the Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman system, which makes it less prone to attack due to the fact that it uses separate, secret keys, the patterns of which cannot be detected and copied by hackers. They also use a code of authentication for safety.
Other than this, S2 devices also have better battery life, greater reliability, and less latency than S0 devices, due to the usage of a single frame command process rather than the former three-step process for security.
How Does the Z-Wave Security 2 Framework Work?
The S2 framework uses separate network keys for the consisting devices to provide protection. These keys are classified into three types – access control, authenticated, and non-authenticated keys.
Access control and authenticated keys allow for public access, and this enables the user to know each particular device that is being included in the system. In order to access public devices, a PIN number or QR code has to be used to break the lock.
Non-authenticated keys enable private access and do not require a PIN number or QR code, and they also do not allow the user to keep a tab on the number of devices being added.
S2 encryption also contains a form of very secure encryption known as AES-128, which is safe enough to be used by the US Government for the SECRET level of classified information.
When this encryption system is combined with authenticated keys, it provides almost invulnerable safety to all the nodes in the ecosystem. Additionally, S2 also provides security for the cloud by providing IPv4 and IPv6 networks for the IP devices, which are a part of the Z/IP Gateway Software.
All this together makes S2 the most secure ecosystem available for wireless networks.
How Secure Is It?
As mentioned above, the S2 encryption system provides a very safe ecosystem by the combination of the authenticated keys and the encryption system. However, this does not make the whole system invulnerable.
Z-Wave devices have a feature that makes them ‘backward compatible’. This means that even if the said machine has been updated to S2, it can be reverted back to S0.
It leaves the products most vulnerable to being downgraded to S0 during the pairing process, without giving any alarms to the user.
The above hack is known as Z Shave, and it is a risk associated with the Z-Wave products, even when S2 has been installed, even though it is not a weakness of Security 2 itself.
Is This Possible to Get on Older or Existing Z-Wave Devices?
Z-Wave devices are both backward and forward compatible. This means that they can be both upgraded from S0 to S2, and vice versa. And this makes all the Z-Wave products, including the older ones, capable of getting the latest level of security, despite the various different manufacturers making them.
All the Z-Wave products that have been released after the 2nd April of 2017 come directly with S2. And the products before that need to be upgraded from S0 to S2. This will be possible as soon as the manufacturers provide the required updates needed for this to happen.
Always remember if your Hub / Controller is not S2 compatible then other devices will not be encrypted using S2 technology it will use the old S0 security feature.
A List of Z-Wave S2 Devices
All the products required for a smart home have been thought of and included in the Z-Wave system. It is safe to say that S2 can be used for the protection and automation of both your homes and offices with ease.
A controller is crucial for the pairing of devices in your smart home. They are important for any intermediate to advanced levels of smart home security.
Some of the great Z-Wave S2 Hub controllers are available:
- HomeSeer HomeTroller Zee S2 (US)
- Honeywell Ademco TUXWIFIW Tuxedo Touch Controller.
- Honeywell 6290W Touch Center 7
When choosing a controller, always keep in mind whether you need one for a simple or more complex system.
Z-Wave Smart USB sticks with S2 encryption enhance the functions for data storage and give a smooth user experience by interacting better with paired devices. Some good USB sticks are:
- HomeSeer SmartStick + Z-wave Plus,
- Zooz Z-Wave Plus S2 USB Stick ZST10
The purpose of smart thermostats is that users can control the temperature of their home or office remotely by connecting them with a device that has a wireless connection.
As for Z-Wave Security 2 supported thermostats, the following are very good:
Voice control serves as an easy way of controlling appliances without having to get up or type out commands.
Some great Z-wave products for voice control are Amazon Echo Dot 2nd generation, New Amazon Echo 2nd generation, and Onkyo Z-wave Plus Alexa Wireless Audio System Adapter.
but there is no S2 Compatible Voice Controller available yet.
Smart locks are usually installed onto ordinary mechanical locks in order to open and close on command via wireless devices. They can also monitor when the lock has been accessed and send alerts to the user.
Few of the Z-wave Security 2 smart-locks operated by Z-wave are:
- August Z-Wave Plus Smart Lock Pro
- Schlage Connect Century Touchscreen Deadbolt Smart Lock
- Yale Assure Lock SL (Should pair with Its own app and homekit)
Home Security System
A smart home security system will comprise of various different devices, including security cameras, door locks, motion sensors, and alarm systems. These will all be connected via wireless networks like Z-Wave, and controlled and monitored remotely by the user.
Some of the Best Security 2 supported Home Security Systems:
- Ringe Alarm Home Security System Professional
- Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security
- 2gig Security and Home Automation Control Panel
- Honeywell Ademco Tuxedo Touch Controller
Smart lights can be both used as traditional lights, or they can be paired with a wireless device or smart-switch to be controlled remotely. These lights can be turned on or off at specific times and dimmed as required, enabling the creation of suitable settings as wanted.
Some great smart-lights using Z-Wave Security 2 are
- GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus 3 way.
- GE Enbrighten Smart Light Dimmer with QuickFit.
- HomeSeer Smart Dimmer Switch.
- Inovelli Z-Wave Dimmer Switch.
- HomeSeer Z-Wave Plus Smart Fan Speed Switch
Smart Power Outlet
Smart power outlets are simply outlets that are integrated with a smart plug. This allows the plugged-in appliances to be controlled. Even devices that are not ‘smart’ can become so by using the smart plug, and hence they can be remotely turned on or off, dimmed, etc.
Moreover, smart outlets can also be turned on and off via wireless connections, and used for monitoring which appliances have been plugged in, and for receiving alerts when too many have been connected.
Z-Wave outlets with S2 that are quite popular,
- Aeotec Smart Switch 6
- FIBARO Wall Plug with USB Charger
- Zooz Z-Wave Plus S2 Power Strip
- Zooz S2 Double Plug
Smart sensors can pick up very specific stimuli from the physical environment while ignoring other information. This enables them to monitor and alert the user when the said stimulus becomes too high or low.
Examples of some smart sensors are fire sensors, moisture sensors, motion sensors, and sensors that detect the opening of doors and windows.
- Aeotec TriSensor, Z-Wave Plus S2 Motion, Temperature, Light Sensor,
- Aeotec Multisensor 6, motion, temperature, humidity, light, UV, vibration sensor
- Ring Alarm Flood and Freeze Sensor
- Ring Alarm Smoke and CO Listener
- HomeSeer Outdoor Floodlight Sensor
- Ring Z-Wave Plus Door/Window Contact Sensor
Some More Z-Wave devices with S2 Security Features:
- Ring Range Extender
- Ring Alarm Panic Button
- Aeotec Doorbell 6
- Aeotec Siren 6 S2 Safety Speaker
- Ring Alarm Keypad
- HomeSeer Leak Sensor
Final Words – Should You Care?
The safety of our homes and work-places is of utmost importance, whether we are aware of it or not. Just as physical threats can harm us, so can cyber ones.
Cyber Security should be a priority in this day and age of wireless technology, we should all take caution and use systems like S2 for our own protection. So, I hope now you have a clear concept of Z-Wave’s S2 devices and their advantages.
Comment below if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help!