Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Z-Wave is a wireless communication technology that is used in security systems and also business and home automation.

Z-Wave is often used in locks, security systems, lighting, heating, cooling and home appliances. Support can be integrated in products or added by retrofitting standard electronics and devices.

Z-Wave communications use low-power radio signals in the 900MHz range, separated from Wi-Fi. The system supports automatic discovery of up to 230 devices per controller. Multiple controllers can also communicate with one another and pass commands to support additional devices. Z-wave is optimized for low latency, with data rates of up to 100KB/s.

Z-Wave is marketed primarily as a security product. However, vulnerabilities have been detected that allow attackers to spoof an access point to gain control, even on encrypted versions. Like most security automation products, Z-Wave increases a system’s attack surface because it adds connected devices and associated software. To prevent networked devices from increasing the overall vulnerability of a system, it’s important to consider the security of any connected element.

Over 80 percent of commercial home security systems use Z-Wave as the protocol by which their components communicate; the Z-Wave Alliance, a global consortium organized to bring compatible devices to market, includes more than 250 manufacturers among its members.

See a Black Hat conference video about hacking Z-Wave automation systems:

This was last updated in January 2015

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