As our world becomes increasingly digitized, so too do our home security systems.
Smart locks, one of the latest innovations to enter the modern household, are easy to install, convenient, and secure. However, some people remain skeptical about their safety.
Here are the myths behind the six most common reasons people hesitate to get smart locks for their homes, and why those fears are misguided.
1. Susceptibility to hackers:
According to the “Smart Locks for Smart Customers?” study, the most common reason people hesitate to get smart locks for their homes is a fear of being hacked. While it is possible for any net-enabled lock to get hacked, MIT Professor Stuart Madnick argues that most hackings are “due to the actions (or carelessness) of the owner.”
When used correctly, smart locks are just as safe as traditional bolt locks. In fact, a security researcher at a DEF CON hacking convention, Anthony Rose, shared his findings that out of 16 randomly-tested smart locks, 12 of them had little or no security. By enabling your smart lock correctly, as well as by changing the battery appropriately, your smart lock can be as secure as any traditional lock.
2. Phone detection
A subsection of hacking, phone detection or phone theft, is another reason people mistakenly doubt the safety of smart lock technology. Many smart locks contain Bluetooth capability which pairs with the user’s smartphone. This becomes an issue only if your phone is lost or stolen. However, even in that case, most brands include a backup key, an entry code, or a way to deactivate the missing phone’s capabilities.
To eliminate the possibility of phone detection entirely, you could opt for a fingerprint door lock instead. Because there is no Bluetooth involved, fingerprint door locks are marginally harder to hack. It is important however to know if your fingerprint lock has backup power, for without a key or Bluetooth capability, they can become dangerous in a power outage. Options such as the Kwikset 953 Obsidian Smart Code Touchscreen Key run on battery power rather than a home-generated power supply, and come equipped with 9V battery backup power.
3. Lock Removal
Although this is highly improbable, it is possible for intruders to remove the locking mechanism entirely. Most smart locks work in tandem with the door’s original deadbolt, which can often be removed with basic tools such as a screwdriver. In spite of this, smart locks are no more susceptible to lock removal than traditional locks, and models made from quality materials can offer better protection than others.
Accessibility is its own form of security. For generations, people have been investing in ways to keep track of their keys: lanyards, keychains, and finally electronic tracking devices. Smart locks eliminate this need entirely. Keys are unnecessary when you have access to your phone, a digital code, or a touchscreen.
If your battery runs out, or you forget your phone, most smart locks work around this, either by offering keypads or fingerprint recognition. Still, if you have any concerns, you can hold onto your physical key–it just won’t determine whether you are able to get into your home at the end of the day.
5. Compatibility with other smart features
When you purchase a home security system, you might not know where to begin when pairing your smart lock with other smart devices. In an article, How to Choose A Security Alarm System for Your Home and Office, Brian Kozlosky writes that “smart features can be quite beneficial for both residential and commercial properties…such as push notifications to your phone, remote access, biometric locks, and video surveillance.” That the majority of smart locks work in lockstep with the features Kozlosky discusses is another reason smart locks provide such excellent security.
6. Ways to increase security of any smart lock system
While smart locks are secure and require almost no management after installation, there are steps you can take to bolster your security.
At the aforementioned hacker convention, DEF CON, presenters found that four major issues made up 75% of security breaches:
- Plain text passwords
- Decompiling APK files
- Device spoofing
- Replay attacks
In order to minimize these issues, you can take precautions. The easiest way to improve your security is to choose a secure access code. When you select an access code, follow the best practices for secure access codes, where you will find a number of dos and don’ts. For instance, do not choose your own birthday or that of a friend’s. Instead, use random numbers that do not repeat.
Another common misstep that smart locks owners take is failing to monitor the battery life of their lock. Smart locks with solid battery life typically last about a year, but it is important to check on it well in advance of the battery dying.
Lastly, when using a Bluetooth-enabled smart lock, it is important to lock your smartphone. In the off chance you lose your phone, a password lock will prevent hackers from gaining access to your deadbolt.
With the proper installation, smart locks can be just as secure as traditional bolt locks. To ensure you are purchasing a quality smart lock, look for trusted brands with high security grades, and models that are made from quality metal.
On the whole, smart locks are generally stronger than traditional locks for a number of reasons. By eliminating keyed entry, homeowners are no longer faced with the same security options they once were. As long as basic maintenance, such as changing batteries, is applied, your smart lock should be safer than any lock you’ve had before.