Smart door locks are the newest innovation in home security products. It might seem like the locks are rising in popularity, and for good reason, too. The hands-free smart home gadget is designed with convenience and safety in mind. They limit the number of things you have to remember tugging along before heading out the door. They also bring redemption to the forgetful homeowner known for leaving their keys back at home. This is because smart locks operate electronically and don’t require a key to unlock. Some locks may even use remotes, smartphones or voice commands from a smart speaker to lock and unlock a door. However, are smart door locks safe?

A woman entering her home is carrying a brown bag that has her white cell phone inside with white illustrated rings around it to demonstrate Bluetooth disarming.

Phone Detection

One argument around a smart lock’s safety stems from the idea you must use your phone to unlock the door. Certain brands of smart door locks must sense your phone’s presence via Bluetooth to disengage. This becomes problematic if someone steals your phone.

Another issue with smart door locks that connect to phones is firmware problems. For example, in the summer of 2017, a firmware update caused a malfunction in smart locks produced by LockState. Over 500 customers were affected with 200 of the customers using the locks to manage their rental properties remotely. The company required affected customers to send them the lock for repairs.

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    Getting Hacked

    Some might argue that another thing keeping smart docks locks safe is the possibility of someone hacking into your doors. There has been case after case proving that smart locks can be hacked. According to MIT professor Stuart Madnick,

    “There is always a risk that a net-enabled lock will get bricked or hacked, most likely due to the actions (or carelessness) of the owner.”

    At the 2016 hacker convention known as DEF CON, presenters focused on the safety of smart locks. Representatives from Merculite Security tested 16 smart locks that relied on Bluetooth technology to operate. They found 75 percent of these locks had vulnerabilities that made them easy to hack. These vulnerabilities included the following:

    • Plain text passwords
    • Decompiling APK files
    • Device spoofing
    • Replay attacks

    Some companies have noted Bluetooth vulnerabilities and have added an extra layer of protection with the inclusion of WiFi. For instance, Lockitron can use WiFi to remotely unlock and lock a door or receive notices when the lock’s knock sensor has been triggered.

    Lock Removal

    Not only can many smart locks be hacked, but they also are proven to have other vulnerabilities like the ability to be removed with a flathead screwdriver. Since smart locks often work with an existing deadbolt, this may mean they have the same level of security as traditional looks. Some smart locks require the deadbolt have certain specifications before installation. For instance, the smart lock may only work with thumb turn deadbolts and not double cylinder deadbolts. These limitations could make the home vulnerable since the homeowner will not be able to add additional hardware for extra protection. If you do choose a smart lock, it may be best to rely on a version where you can use it as an extra layer of protection for your traditional lock. Plus, depending on what type of power source the lock uses, the lock may become useless during power failures.

    A woman opens a white front door that has an August Smart Door Lock installed on it.

    According to Consumer Reports, smart locks may not be worth the money. During independent testing, they found a $300 fingerprint sensor lock less secure than a keyed lock priced almost 50 percent less.

    How To Keep Your Smart Door Locks Safe

    Just as there are ways your smart door locks can be compromised, there are also steps you can take to protect your locks from becoming vulnerable. This includes:

    • Regularly updating your smart lock password
    • Not sharing your smart lock password
    • Updating the mobile application linked to your smart door locks

    Practicing these security precautions will keep your smart door locks from becoming an easy target for break-ins. Instead, it will keep your locks on track for doing what you bought them to do, which is to bring your home protection and convenience.

    Interested in home security equipment including smart door locks, sensors, cameras and smoke detectors? Contact Protect America today to find out more about their affordable equipment pieces and monitored home security plans. Request a free online quote through their secure web portal.