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Zigbee R23: Enhancing Security and Standardizing Operations for the Complete IoT Solution

Telink Staff

April 10, 2023


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The Zigbee PRO stack is boosting its security measures with Revision 23 (R23), with novel features built to enhance interoperability, cross-vendor compatibility, and user-friendliness.

Zigbee, a wireless communication protocol, has been popular among IoT device manufacturers for over 20 years. With the release of Zigbee R23, the protocol has several significant updates to offer. From routing improvements and enhanced joining flows, to better multi-vendor compatibility support, Zigbee R23 helps existing smart environments adapt to changing industry trends. The most comprehensive updates focus on security and standardization, making Zigbee R23 an exciting development for the IoT industry. Below, learn about the new features of Zigbee R23 that are making waves in smart landscapes everywhere.

Enhancing Security and Interoperability with Zigbee R23

Enhancing security and interoperability with Zigbee R23

Zigbee R23 helps your IoT ecosystems remain impenetrable with extensive features that include:

  • Dynamic Link Key (DLK): Mitigates network eavesdropping from malicious actors and safeguards data even if messages are intercepted. DLK leverages install codes and passwords to prevent unauthorized connections, improving security during device commissioning.
  • Device Interview: Exchanges encrypted messages between the Trust Center and joining devices to vet unauthorized users. This process allows for secure firmware upgrades and detailed device filtering as new entities enter a network.
  • APS Frame Counter Synchronization: Detects seemingly legitimate messages that are actually duplicates used in a replay attack, where an adversary sends an intercepted message back to gain access. APS frame counter synchronization validates all messages between endpoints to differentiate real messages from false ones.
  • Secured Channel and PAN ID Changes: PAN ID identifies a particular Zigbee network, while Secured Channel is a chosen channel maintained and selected by the Trust Center. Previously, any network endpoint could report busy channels, which in turn can disrupt network operations. To prevent unnecessary changes, Zigbee R23 deploys additional measures to ensure that only network managers have this power.
  • Smart Energy Key Management Improvements: Allows the Trust Center to establish the level of authentication for each device to interact with Smart Energy devices, which require higher level of security. This feature enables managers to control which devices can access and change infrastructure settings, report anomalies, and optimize energy usage.
  • Trust Center Swap Out: Enables safe switching from one Trust Center to another without the need for recommissioning associated devices.
  • Restricted Mode: Limits the ability for networks to change the state of any device and, instead, allocates that role to the Trust Center only. This blocks unauthorized device changes and gives managers better visibility and control over device configuration.
  • Works With All Hubs (WWAHU): Standardizes the parent device selection process to improve connectivity to Hub-centric networks. WWAHU provides extra information about the parent device to determine its reliability and better resolve connection conflicts.

With stronger security mechanisms, Zigbee users can enjoy greater flexibility and capability when interacting with their smart devices and network hubs.

Benefits of Zigbee R23 For Product Companies and Developers 

With these standardized security features, and without the need for proprietary protocols, companies can offer their customers increased security while maintaining interoperability, reducing costs, and increasing customer trust.

Zigbee R23 works on Smart Energy networks, driving energy optimization for customers and supporting global sustainability initiatives. This makes it an ideal choice for companies that offer smart home devices, including lighting, heating, and cooling systems. With standardized onboarding (WWAHU), device commissioning and management become more resilient, increasing product adoption and accessibility for end-users. Overall, Zigbee R23 offers increased security and simplified onboarding, making it a promising choice for developers creating the next line of smart technology.

Simplifying the User Experience with Zigbee Direct

Zigbee Direct is a relatively new feature that unites Zigbee and Bluetooth technologies for a seamless user experience. Users can onboard their devices using their mobile phones and tablets, eliminating the need for additional hardware. This simplifies the device onboarding process, making it more accessible for end-users to work with the technology they already have while saving them time and money. With improved support for existing hubs and smart speakers, users can more easily control devices within their homes and unleash the full potential of their IoT environment.

Harness the Features of Zigbee R23 with Telink

Push the boundaries of IoT integration with best-in-class semiconductor chips and customizable protocols leveraging the latest in technology. Telink’s SoCs are equipped with Zigbee and Bluetooth assets for multiprotocol compatibility and a simplified experience for consumers and developers alike. With the launch of Zigbee R23, Telink is already hard at work refining our products and development kits to accommodate for the future of smart spaces, so that you can be a part of the best that IoT has to offer.

Please visit our wiki to learn more about our development tools, or ask us a question through our Technical Forum or by contacting us directly today.