Smart technology is infiltrating our lives, whether we are totally aware of it or not; according to a recent survey, 34% of US households admit to owning at least two devices which operate via the Internet of Things. Whilst mundane and bizarre IoT-connected appliances such as smart toasters and thermometers have been flooding the market, it’s smart home security which has taken up most of the conversation.
On paper, the hype around smart locks checks out—they’re an easy, integrated way to keep your home safe, activated through voice command, a keycode, or even biometric systems. However, just because smart locks are popular, it doesn’t always guarantee that they are safe. Here, we’ll look at three of the most important facts to take into consideration if you’re thinking about smartening your home security setup.
1. They are not more secure than traditional locks (yet)
In the last twelve months, there has been a significant rise in the number of hacking attempts on smart security devices, highlighting one of the major security flaws of the technology. In their guide to how to choose a front door lock, security experts Banham note that not only are many smart locks easy to “pick”, but that “no smart locks currently on the market…have any impact on insurance policies”. By contrast, the best traditional locks are looked upon favourably by insurers, and you could stand to save money on your premium with the best quality door locks on the market.
In a very real sense, smart locks are only as secure as the Wi-Fi connection on which they operate. Other smart locks utilise Bluetooth, which have also been found to be easily hackable in test conditions. According to Lifehacker, smart security hasn’t seen any significant improvements in the last half decade in terms of becoming less hackable. Even if no one is trying to break in, should your home internet connection go down, your locks will disarm, leaving you just as vulnerable. Some commentators also noted that the biggest flaw with smart security was the fact that break-ins can now be conducted remotely, meaning that “you’ve removed that expensive (and from an attacker’s perspective, risky) cost from the equation”.
2. They might not be compatible with every door
As with any other kind of lock, IoT locks won’t be able to augment every type of door, and you may need to get your existing locks fixed before installing a smart lock. As TechRadar points out, the mechanisms of your current lock and the dimensions of your door, as well as the material from which it is made, will impact whether or not these locks could be an option.
Although many brands of smart lock are able to fit on top of existing locks, they are often incompatible with mortice locks, one of the most common and secure types of lock. Most manufacturers have their own guides to which types of lock and door their products are compatible with, so make sure you do your homework before splashing out.
3. There’s a world of difference between smart locks
Not all smart locks are created equal, not just in terms of the level of security they provide, but the features they offer to keep your home safe in the first place. How To Geek highlight the need to be consistent with the brand of locks you already use in your home, as different brands have different types of pins within their cylinders. However, the differences go far beyond just the internal lock mechanisms.
As mentioned above, smart locks can run through either a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Home Stratosphere notes that the latter “tend[s] to drain batteries much faster than Bluetooth-enabled locks”, whilst also allowing you to enable your locks remotely via a corresponding app. By comparison, Bluetooth smart locks can only be activated whilst in range of your home. Similarly, the way smart locks can be opened can vary, whether by using a fob (or a smartphone as a fob) or a keypad to enter an additional code before gaining access to your home.
So whilst in theory a smart lock is a useful addition to your home security, at present they aren’t quite up to the task of protecting your property on their own. If you do want a smart lock, make sure you keep in mind that they simply aren’t good enough on their own.