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Kudelski IoT Labs authorised as Alexa Voice Services test facility

Internet of things division of cyber security firm brings device testing and certification expertise to implementers of Amazon Voice Services in speakers, headphones, vehicles and other connected devices

As 5G networks with ultra-fast latency and capacity proliferate, increasing consumer privacy concerns for all connected internet of things (IoT) devices make it critical for device manufacturers to get best-in-class validation. Digital security provider Kudelski has received a boost this area after its IoT Labs has been judged to have met and exceeded all Amazon requirements to test Alexa Built-in Devices.

The authorisation means that Kudelski has become part of an elite group of labs qualified to perform such tests on devices including speakers, headphones, vehicles, lighting, cameras, switches, and other accessories and connected devices. While most use cases for such devices are currently in consumer markets, over the past year, smart speakers are seen as being able to support new engagement channels that operators can offer to brands and enterprises.

Survey data from Juniper Research identified smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest, as a hugely complementary technology for voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and thus enabling IP-based voice services.

The study forecast that more than 220 million smart speakers will be used to make calls to landlines or mobile phone numbers by 2024. Furthermore, Statista data has shown that between 2020 and 2023, the number of digital voice assistant-enabled devices is expected to double from four billion to eight billion.

Kudelski stresses that providing adequate, well-tested security of all connected products plays a key role in ensuring IoT products are successful and that customer demand for them is not impeded by privacy concerns.

For this reason, it says, Amazon has established a clear set of requirements to support manufacturers in securely implementing Alexa Voice Services (AVS). Key among these requirements is the need to engage an independent security expert to conduct an in-depth security review of each Alexa Built-in device that they must then submit to Amazon for certification.

Operating for more than 20 years, Kudelski’s labs have developed evaluation techniques and capabilities to test both against current hacking methods as well as exceed the abilities of hackers. That said, the company will ensure clients release products that are secure and launch with security that is sustainable over the lifetime of the product.

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Kudelski IoT Labs provide services to support IoT device and ecosystem manufacturers throughout their entire product life cycle. Services include design sprints, threat assessments, device design and development, security architecture, device and ecosystem security assessments, and ongoing lifecycle services.

“There is no doubt that adding a digital voice assistant to your product has huge benefits, but it must be done securely to prevent privacy issues and breaches of customer trust if hackers strike,” said Hardy Schmidbauer, senior vice-president of IoT for the Kudelski Group, commenting on the authorisation.

“In reality, customers are becoming increasingly aware of security-related issues and are looking for products that guarantee the privacy and safety of their families, so we are happy to help implementers ensure that both their AVS integration as well as their entire IoT ecosystem are secure and robust against attack,” he said.

Amazon’s Amit Agrawal said: “It is important to have both the right security expert within your company, to establish secure design practices, and an independent expert who can perform regular security assessments on production devices. We require device makers to submit a security assessment report before launch, and every time there is a major change in the device software or firmware that triggers the re-certification of your device.”

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