IVI and LXI Newsletter
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Message from the Presidents of IVI and LXI

By Larry Ostheimer, President of the IVI Foundation and Steve Schink, President of the LXI Consortium

The IVI Foundation (IVI) and LXI Consortium (LXI) have been collaborating for several years to identify and develop the necessary T&M security standard updates needed to secure instrument LAN communication and instrument LAN access in an Automated Test System (ATS). In this newsletter, we are excited to share more details on the IVI and LXI work that has been done to allow our consortia members to develop and deliver secure products that can be used within our customers' secure environments.

Specifically, this newsletter discusses:

  • LXI Version 1.6 Security Updates

  • IVI Standards Updates for Secure Network Communications

  • LXI Reference Design Updates for LXI Version 1.6

  • LXI Version 1.6 Conformance Testing with TSEP Kerberos

  • LXI Version 1.6 Security Updates

    By Steve Schink, President of the LXI Consortium and Joseph Mueller, Keysight Technologies

    The LXI Consortium is responsible for establishing standardized behavior for LXI compliant devices that are connected to and controlled by a computer over LAN. The use of LXI compliant devices greatly simplifies the creation and interoperability of multi-vendor test systems.

    The increase in cybersecurity threats is seeing more exploits involving network connections to devices. Previously, businesses would address these threats by isolating sensitive equipment and data behind firewalls. Now, the sophistication of today's bad actors and the risk of insider threats have driven the industry to add new layers of protection and promote the concept of "defense in depth". The serious threat of nation state bad actors has further increased the need for security that is robust against highly sophisticated attackers.

    The LXI Version 1.6 specifications have been updated to address the need for secure network communication with LXI devices. These updates include:

  • LXI Security Extended Function: A new specification that establishes requirements for LXI instruments that provide secure network connections for both command-and-control and for the instrument's web interface.

  • LXI API Extended Function: A new specification that specifies a REST API to configure and query the settings on an instrument that are important for the instrument to work in a secure environment.

  • Various changes to the main LXI Device specification and other extended functions to extend them for security and make minor updates.

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    IVI Standards Updates for Secure Network Communications

    By Joseph Mueller, Keysight Technologies

    The IVI Foundation is responsible for numerous standards that facilitate creating multi-vendor test systems. Several of these standards have been updated to provide for secure communication between test system computers and instruments. These changes are:

  • IVI-6.1: High-Speed LAN Instrument Protocol (HiSLIP) has been updated to make secure connections using TLS (Transport Layer Security)

  • IVI VISA specifications had minor updates so VISA programs can specify and perform secure communication

  • IVI-6.5: SASL Mechanism Specification (New) was created to enhance interoperability between instruments and VISA libraries

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    LXI Reference Design Updates for LXI Version 1.6

    By David Courtney, TSE Plazotta GmbH

    The LXI Reference Design is an open-source implementation of the LXI standard for members of the LXI Consortium. The source code is tested for Windows 7 & 10 and Ubuntu 18.04. Its architectural build with CMake allows many more platforms to be generated or adopted with little to no effort. The source code is built as modules which allow easily adding or removing specific LXI extended features. In addition to the modularity, much of the source code can be modified to meet company requirements such as storing private keys or using a specified web server or database.

    The LXI Reference Design implementation was created in 2014 in a collaboration between TSEP and the LXI Consortium. The initial LXI Reference Design supported the LXI Device Specification 2016, LXI IPv6 Extended Function, and LXI HiSLIP Extended Function. The LXI Reference Design was extended to support the LXI Event Messaging, LXI Event Log, and LXI Clock Synchronization Extended Functions.

    The LXI Consortium utilizes TSEP to develop and maintain the LXI Reference Design source code. The maintenance includes ongoing platform changes and bug fixes. Whether changing platforms from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or moving from Ubuntu 14.04 to Ubuntu 16.04, then again to Ubuntu 18.04, users have had current and supported tools at their disposal.

    TSEP has invested 5 engineering years in the release mentioned above. They have invested another 1.5 engineering years to update the LXI Reference Design to conform to the new LXI Version 1.6. This iteration includes the new LXI Security and LXI API Extended Functions, and updates to the LXI HiSLIP and LXI IPv6 Extended Functions.


    LXI Version 1.6 Conformance Testing with TSEP Kerberos

    By Marco Berenfeld, TSE Plazotta GmbH

    When developing a network-based test system, a variety of challenges arise when using test equipment from multiple vendors. The LXI Standard has been used for over 15 years by LXI Members to create devices that can be easily used to develop multi-vendor network based Automated Test Systems (ATS).

    To ensure multi-vendor interoperability of LXI devices used within network based ATS solutions, the LXI Consortium requires all LXI devices to be tested for conformance to the LXI Standard. Until recently, LXI Member companies had to set up their own test environment to test that their device was conformant to the LXI Standard using the LXI Conformance Test Suite. The test environment included several specific software and hardware components that were occasionally difficult to get working together properly. In this test environment, most of the tests were manual and required a certain level of understanding of the test environment and the LXI Standard to test devices correctly. After the device was developed, a certified LXI Test House was then hired to certify the device conformed to the LXI Standard, which increased the overall development cost and time of the device.


    Thanks to all our readers.
    Aaron Hall, Editor

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