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Security in the IoT: Digi XBee Cellular Featuring Digi TrustFence

Security for Connected Devices
Embedded security is a critical requirement for a growing number of connected IoT applications and devices. Evolving technology and network connectivity expose device manufacturers to significant new security risks and engineering challenges. Digi TrustFence™ provides a tested and fully integrated security framework designed for the long product life of embedded devices.

Digi TrustFence is a security framework for IoT systems. Built into that framework are a series of critical features that enable top-to-bottom security assurance; features like secure connections, authenticated boot, secure physical ports, and more. Digi XBee Cellular implements key elements of the Digi TrustFence framework, including:

  • Secure Boot – Ensures only signed software images can run on a device
  • Encrypted Storage – Security keys are protected by an on-board security chip
  • Protected JTAG – Programming interface locked to prevent tampering
  • Secure Connections – SSL/TLS v1.2 encryption for secure data transmissions
  • Life-cycle Longevity – Digi-maintains a future-proof platform architecture

Security threats to embedded devices in IoT solutions are increasingly common, as attacks become more sophisticated. They can include confidentiality breaches, service theft, data integrity, and reduced service availability. IoT systems have unique security requirements and challenges, mostly due to resource limitations. Build secure, connected products with Digi XBee Cellular embedded modems to capitalize on the out-of-the-box, integrated security provided by Digi TrustFence. The result: you protect your brand’s reputation and focus on delivering cellular-connected products without the worrying, risk and hassle of implementing custom security.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Cellular, ZigBee, Thread, Wi-Fi, and More: What Does It Mean To Deliver True Compatibility Regardless of Technology?

True compatibility is a combination of common hardware and software interfaces that are future-proof and provide design flexibility. Digi XBee offers true compatibility with a common footprint and common APIs:

Common Footprint
In one compact design footprint, Digi XBees give our customers access to multiple wireless protocols and RF frequencies including Cellular, ZigBee®, Thread, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi. This flexibility lowers manufacturing and engineering costs and offers OEMs the ability to quickly expand their roadmap and adapt to different frequencies and protocols for different regions of the globe.

Common Pinouts
Common footprints mean more than just a shared physical design. All Digi XBee modules use the Digi XBee pin signal layout standard. This means that all Digi XBees share the same electrical connections for maximum interchangeability.

Common API and AT Interface
Digi XBee devices can configure their local serial connections in several different ways. The XBee “operating mode” establishes the way the host device communicates with an XBee through its serial interface. These modes are standardized across all XBee devices.

Digi XBee modules support two different operating modes, which are consistent across all the different technology variants:

  • Application Transparent (“Transparent mode”)
  • Application Programming Interface (“API mode”)

Transparent Mode
Digi XBees operate in this mode by default. The device acts as a simple, ‘plug n play’ serial line replacement when it is in Transparent operating mode. The device queues all serial data it receives through the RX/DIN pin for RF transmission to its configured remote destination. When a device receives RF data from a remote device, it sends the data out through the TX/DOUT pin.


  • Provides a simple interface that makes it easy to get started with Digi XBee.
  • Easy for an application to support; what you send is exactly what other modules get, and vice versa.
  • Works very well for two-way communication between Digi XBee devices.

API Mode
API mode is a frame-based protocol that allows you to direct data on a packet-by-packet basis. The host device communicates UART data in packets, also known as API frames. This mode allows for structured communications between computers and microcontrollers, and the Digi XBee.
The advantages of API operating mode include:

  • It is easier to send information to multiple destinations
  • The host receives the source address for each received data frame
  • The host can receive a delivery status for each transmitted frame
  • Parameter changes can be accomplished without entering Command mode

True Compatibility
With these common hardware and software interfaces, integrating a true Digi XBee socket provides two essential advantages to an OEM design:

  1. Future-proof: Digi XBee will continue to maintain consistency as we add support for new technologies, protocols, and frequencies. This means less software and hardware work for OEM developers when they are asked to add new features into their products and services.
  2. Flexibility: It’s quick and easy to drop in different technologies, protocols, and frequencies to expand your roadmap and address new markets or regions.

With the largest selection of global protocols, standard interfaces, design flexibility, mission-critical security and a future-proof footprint, Digi XBee is the best choice for bringing a communications solution to market in record time.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Top 5 Questions to Ask When Securely Deploying & Managing Remote Devices

Does my vendor do Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, tests for vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit on a device, network, or web application. Ideally, device manufacturers should submit to frequent (quarterly) pen testing by external contractors AND ad-hoc pen testing by interested customers.

What security certifications does my vendor maintain?
You want to see an active security office and security model, not just lip service. Having a dedicated security office means ensuring that security best practices are incorporated into the engineering design process. This approach incorporates accepted guidelines and processes that take into consideration product design and testing such as those defined by the third party organizations such as the American Society for Quality/ Failure Mode Effects Analysis; iSixSigma/DFMEA; ISO9001 SDLC, Penetration Testing Execution Standard and OWASP; as well as emerging standards such as the Online Trust Alliance (OTA).

How does/should my vendor generate true random numbers and secure key storage?
A secret code is only as good as the random number it is based on. Computers are inherently deterministic—so how can they make a truly random number? True Hardware Random Number Generators (TRNG) use the random properties of the physical world to create truly random numbers based on quantum noise.

When Was Your Vendor Last Audited, What Did They Find, and What Did You Do About It?
Does your vendor provide ongoing threat measurement and monitoring services as well as performing internal and external security audits on a regular basis? Regular audits ensure up-to-date security patches, and provide ongoing proactive communication regarding upcoming threats. Certain industry security frameworks, like ISO27001, and PCI DSS require these regular audits.

What will this cost us?
As a general rule, you should only pay a recurring fee if the vendor is making a recurring investment. For example, you should pay once for a great firewall and you should pay ongoing for ongoing device management. It is a good idea to make evaluate the total-cost-of-ownership between different vendors. Our competitor’s total-cost-of-ownership tends to always be higher because they charge for security services, or worse, they offer them at all.

>>Click here to see how to easily integrate device security, device identity, and data privacy capabilities with Digi TrustFence

Design for LPWA with LTE Cat 1 Today. Ready for LTE-M and NB-IoT Networks Tomorrow.

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Build for Today
LTE Cat 1 is a critical cellular technology for low-power, low-bandwidth IoT deployments. While it supports data rates of 10Mbps Downlink / 5Mbps Uplink, it’s not optimal for higher bandwidth applications that require streaming data or large file transfers. LTE Cat 3 or 4 are better suited for applications that require high data rates and are (typically) mains powered, with support for speeds up to 150Mbps Downlink / 50Mbps Uplink. LTE Cat 1, on the other hand, is a great option for LPWA applications that require low-power consumption and transmit smaller amounts of data less frequently. LTE Cat 1 is fully available across North America, so it can be used in customer applications immediately with confidence. With the Digi XBee Cellular and its industry-leading sub-10uA Deep Sleep functionality, OEMs can design their LPWA devices to work with existing LTE Cat 1 infrastructure today, and in the future drop in an ultra-low power Digi XBee LTE-M or NB-IoT (or even LoRa) with little to no hardware or software re-design required.

Ready for Tomorrow
LTE-M and NB-IoT promise to improve range by 4-7x while further enhancing battery life up to 10 years, with significantly lower hardware and data plan costs. However, these new networks are not yet fully deployed and available – carriers are in the early stages of upgrading their infrastructure, with plans to have full service availability that includes new advanced power management features like PSM and eDRX by the end of 2017. It’s a good strategy for OEMs to start LPWA implementations today leveraging LTE Cat 1, allowing a seamless transition to LTE-M and/or NB-IoT as they become fully available in the future.

The Digi XBee line of wireless solutions maintains a consistent hardware footprint, standard pin-out connections and award-winning software interface across a wide variety of communications protocols. They include ZigBee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh, Wi-Fi, as well as longer-range proprietary (100+ kilometer) solutions. Digi XBees manufactured over a decade ago remain hardware and software compatible with the latest XBee products, including the new Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1. Digi’s XBee LTE-M and NB-IoT modems will deliver these new technologies in a fully backwards-compatible and future-proof platform. This is the Digi XBee™ Cellular advantage.

Planning a LPWA solution that needs to work as well in the future as it does today? Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 is the only modem on the market with the track record to truly connect with confidence.

>>Learn how to buy a Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit today with six months of free data.

Posted in Cellular, XBee | Comments Off on Design for LPWA with LTE Cat 1 Today. Ready for LTE-M and NB-IoT Networks Tomorrow.

Future-Proof Your IoT Products Today with Field-Proven zigbee

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Digi XBee® is the most popular module for building zigbee mesh networks. Our new zigbee 3.0 firmware is coming soon which will combine many of the zigbee application layers and will natively support dotdot, the next chapter in enabling smart objects to work together on any network. So, you can confidently design in Digi XBee without having to worry about compatibility with future developments around dotdot. As a matter of fact, the best path to dotdot is with zigbee today.

Click here to read more about dotdot from the zigbee alliance.


Posted in XBee | Comments Off on Future-Proof Your IoT Products Today with Field-Proven zigbee

Internet of Things in Review at IoTFuse: Conference 2017

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IoTFuse put on a great event about a week ago at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Digi team members were pleased to be a part of it. The single biggest challenge was choosing which session to attend – there were 48 presentations for all 1,100 registrants to choose from. Here’s a recap of a few of our favorites:

Rainforest Connection
The day kicked off with a presentation from Topher White with Rainforest Connection in which he described recycling old smart phones and turning them into solar-powered listening devices to detect illegal logging. A truly inspiring use of wireless technology to help save our rainforests and reduce CO2 emissions.

IoT Motivators to Keep Your Shirt
Joel Young, Digi CTO, spoke on “Winning the IoT Future, Without Losing Your Shirt.” He explained, surprisingly, that there is an IoT identity crisis because IoT is not a marketplace that can be conquered with an IoT strategy. Instead, IoT is a market enabler, based on key motivators used to accomplish a higher objective. He used several consumer examples (Egg Minder, Netflix Socks, Smart Sneakers) and commercial examples (Big Belly Solar and Heavy Equipment) to discuss the “IoT Motivators” and if they were successful or not. It was an interesting perspective on how the goal should not be to create an IoT device for the sake of an IoT device, but to create an IoT device because it solves a specific customer problem.

Macchina presented their device that enables car owners and fleet managers to monitor telematics through the OBDII port. What’s better, is Macchina uses a Digi XBee socket, so you can plug in Digi XBee Cellular to remotely monitor your vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.

Another favorite session was given by an IoTFuse HackDay winner, Pejman Ghorbanzade, titled “Sloth: An Energy Efficient Real-Time Activity Recognition System.” In one day Pejman was able to assemble wearable sensors (connected by Digi XBee) that can be used to detect activities of daily living, which can be helpful in nursing homes and other settings. What was most interesting was Pejman’s algorithm for predicting certain activities like cooking, walking, eating, etc. By predicting the activity, Pejman’s devices don’t have to send all of the sensor data to be processed – it can just summarize by saying “grandma is cooking.”


Smart Cities
Massoud Amin, Director of the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) at the University of Minnesota, hosted a panel session on Smart Cities with the CIOs of the City of Minneapolis, Otto Doll, and Hennepin County, Jerry Driessen. Professor Amin is also Chairman of the IEEE Smart Grid, a global initiative to bring together organizations involved in the modernization and optimization of the power grid.

According to the UN State of World Cities report, the number of urban residents is growing at 60 million every year. In addition, more than 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2020. The analyst firm of Frost & Sullivan estimates that cities will spend $1.5 trillion by 2020, an annual growth rate of 22.5%. Whatever numbers you use, smarter cities of all sizes are capitalizing on new technologies and the diminishing cost of IT infrastructure to create a ubiquitous network of connected devices, smart sensors, and big data analytics to transform their systems, operations and service delivery.

Competition among cities to engage and attract new residents, businesses and visitors means constant attention to providing a high quality of life and vibrant economic climate. Forward-thinking leaders recognize that although tight budgets, scarce resources and legacy systems frequently challenge their goals, new and innovative technologies can help turn challenges into opportunities.

Digi helps make your city smart by adding connectivity and intelligence to critical government systems. Get the real-time information and remote management you need for transit, traffic control, intelligent street lighting, waste and recycling, all while keeping budgets under control. Being smarter can change the way our cities work and help deliver on their potential as never before.


Read more about IoTFuse and join the largest IoT community in Minnesota>>

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T-Minus Two Days Until IoTFuse Ignites Minnesota’s IoT Space

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Over the last few years, IoTFuse has transformed into the largest IoT conference in Minnesota creating a massive network of makers, engineers, product leaders and IoT professionals. The annual IoTFuse: Conference 2017 provides an invigorating and collaborative opportunity for the Minnesota Internet of Things community to map the future of the IoT marketplace. Digi is proud to be a leader in the emerging IoT industry in Minnesota and excited to sponsor the largest IoT community in the Midwest. Get to know our speakers, check out product demonstrations to investigate, and register – possibly for free.

#IoTFuse17 Speaker Spotlight

There are approximately 48 presentations with prominent speakers from Minnesota-based companies including Otto Doll, CIO of the City of Minneapolis and Ryan McCoy, Director of Product Development at Target.

How to Win the IoT Future, Without Losing Your Shirt
Senior Vice President – Research and Development, Chief Technical Officer, Joel Young, will define the Internet of Things and how to develop successful projects. He has a great story to tell with his 30 years of experience in the technology industry and 16 years here at Digi International transforming the Internet of Things space while collecting 16 patents. In December of 2016, the IoT M2M Council (IMC) Board of Governors voted him as their new Chairman and he was recently featured in the Meet a Minnesota CTO series.


Accelerating IoT Development
This presentation offers guidelines to success in the IoT world from two leaders and engineers who would know. Kyle Sporre and Steve Jester will discuss important designs to consider, speeding up development, ROI, and setbacks to avoid. As the Manager of RF and Hardware Engineering at Digi International Wireless Design Services (WDS), Kyle Sporre has 15 years of experience in wireless product development and a passion for solving unique IoT challenges. Senior Director of Engineering, Steve Jester has been an engineer for 24 years, with 12 years of experience in professional design services. His passion is to build successful engineering teams.


Product Demonstrations

Be sure to visit us at IoTFuse Conference 2017 to see our newest product introductions in action. Digi XBee Cellular, Digi Connect Sensor+, and Digi ConnectCore 6UL demonstrations will be on display at the Digi exhibit. In addition, there will be giveaway opportunities to check out.

Win Free Tickets

We have two tickets valued at $100 each to attend this invaluable event. To be eligible to win, tag who you would like to bring with in the comment section below our pinned LinkedIn post. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Thursday, April 20 at 10:00 AM CT time. Winners must be able to attend IoTFuse: Conference 2017 on Friday, April 28 from 8:00 – 5:00 PM at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

>> Register now for IoTFuse: Conference 2017 >>

Posted in Events, Uncategorized | Comments Off on T-Minus Two Days Until IoTFuse Ignites Minnesota’s IoT Space

Digi XBee Cellular Versus Rudimentary Cellular Breakout Boards

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The Digi XBee Cellular represents a quantum leap ahead of the typical breakout boards on the market today in terms of features, functionality, and ease of development. A breakout board “breaks out” the pins of an underlying cellular module onto a printed circuit board giving you access to use the pins, but little or no additional functionality. Some breakout boards include end-device certification, a SIM slot, and a simple power supply and antenna connector. But, the designer is left having to design in an external microcontroller to manage the module, integrate security elements into their design, and other complex development tasks.

Unlike these breakout boards, Digi XBee Cellular hardware is fully integrated with an on-board cellular module, ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller, power regulator, and security chip, all packed into a compact 24.4 x 32.9mm Digi XBee through-hole footprint. This enables a number of useful features on Digi XBee Cellular that are not available on other cellular modules or breakout boards:

Digi XBee software interface
This runs on the on-board micro-controller and provides an abstraction layer for software designers, including a common AT command interface for configuration and control, an API mode for external devices to intelligently communicate with the XBee, and a transparent serial mode for simple ‘transparent’ communications through the UART, over the cellular network, to the destination IP address or phone number.

Future-Proof design
Digi XBee software interface is consistent across all current and future XBees, and they all share the same Digi XBee footprint. This means it will be easy to drop new wireless technologies into your design as they roll out – technologies like LTE-M, NB-IoT or even LoRa.

• Digi’s easy to use (and free) XCTU software
This software enables you to configure, test, and manage your devices with an intuitive user interface.

• Deep Sleep Mode
In this mode, Digi XBee Cellular consumes less than 10uA. This feature can be configured as cyclic sleep, or pin activated sleep. Other breakout boards support ‘low power modes’ that draw significantly more power.

• Trustfence™ Security Features
These include Secure Boot, SSL/TLS 1.2, Encrypted Storage, and Protected JTAG interface.

• NEW! On-board programmability via MicroPython
Developers will have their own application sandbox directly on the Digi XBee Cellular modem. This enables on-board intelligence for simple sensor/actuator applications, using the digital and analog I/O.

When considering embedded cellular connectivity, it is important consider all of the additional components and work involved in using a breakout board. If time to market and ease of use are vital to your project check out the Digi XBee Cellular development kit which includes a Digi XBee end-device certified modem, a development board, a pre-activated SIM with a live data plan and 6 months of free data service, and the antennas and accessories needed to get cellular up and running in a matter of minutes!

>>Click here to learn more about Digi XBee Cellular.

Posted in Cellular, XBee | Comments Off on Digi XBee Cellular Versus Rudimentary Cellular Breakout Boards
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