Smart Door Locks – How Secure Are They Really?

Comfort or security, do we have to choose?

Feeling safe is by far the most important thing when it comes to your home. That feeling starts and ends at your doorstep.

As technology continues to grow, we’re seeing more advanced security systems for things that we use in our everyday life. More and more people are getting security cameras and we even have phones and other gadgets that have fingerprint scan and face recognition.

With the growing interest in security technology, we’re also seeing more advanced techniques for something as simple as locking our door. I remember watching movies when I was younger where people would open doors with fingerprints and this would seem far off in the future. However, this isn’t just something out of a sci-fi movie these days but actually something anybody could have in their home now.

Today we’re going to look at traditional door locks versus smart door locks, compare, and see the pros of cons when it comes to choosing the safest option for your home.


Quick conclusion – Are smart locks safer than traditional locks?

In my opinion, I believe that traditional locks are still the safest option due to the many years of improving. While smart locks serve their purpose and allow you to control them remotely, they still have the downside of requiring to be connected while also possibly being exposed to cyber threats which could lower the security of your home.

I believe there will be a time where smart locks are more useful, we might not just be there quite yet.

Below will include a deeper analysis of the question and compare the different lock types for your home.


What is a traditional lock?

traditional lock

There are a few ways to defining what is a traditional lock. The easiest way to explain it just a regular door lock that we all have in our homes. Although there are many different varieties, they are all considered traditional locks when they are opened by using a regular key.

How do traditional locks work?

One of the most commonly used locks for residential homes is the Pin-Tumbler lock. To explain the function of these locks in simple words, these locks include spring-loaded pins that are loaded into cylinders. When inserting the correct key into the lock, the pins will, in turn, push up the key pins in a certain order upward which will unlock the cylinder to turn, which opens the lock.

In even simpler words, the right key will have low and high points in its profile, which in turn has to match the pins setting inside the lock to be able to turn the cylinder.

How can there be so many unique locks and keys using the same technique?

This is actually something that I was curious about and I hope it might answer someone else wondering the same.

Think about a password containing a certain range of numbers, there will be a set number of unique passwords being able to be created with the same number range. This goes for locks as well although it can be more complicated as very small differences in a key can be made to make it unique. There have been reports of cars that have been unlocked by someone else than the owner, using two keys supposed to be different.

Can this really happen? It could potentially happen as it is technically possible, it is however highly unlikely that it would ever happen to you as manufacturers spread their locks all over the country. Also, even a simple lock generally have thousands of unique locks and you also have to remember that there are many varieties of locks from different manufacturers even if they use the same technique.

What are the security downsides of traditional locks?

The major downside of this lock is that it’s been around for a long time and that time has allowed for many attempts to figure out how to crack these locks without having a key. As you could imagine, with a bit of training and the right tools, you could possibly learn how to imitate a key and force the pins to unlock. Although they have to activate in a certain order for it to unlock, these locks are known to be a common weak point if someone tries to force entry.

These potential security issues can, of course, be dealt with by using more than one lock and it could also depend on the complexity of the lock itself.

In terms of other downsides, losing a key is a bummer since you’re locked out, but you also usually have to pay a quite large fee for a replacement or a new lock.


What is a smart lock?

smart lock

Smart locks, like anything with the word Smart in it, is generally an electronic device that is automated or connected somehow. Many of the current smart locks are however basically just traditional locks that can be controlled and monitored remotely as well, while some are solely digital and controlled through wi-fi.

There are many different types of smart locks and they all may have different features included. You can control some with your phone, once again, adding on to the word Smart Lock. Apart from that, some may have sensors notifying you remotely who is entering. While not very common for the usual residential homes, there are also smart locks that allow you to unlock it using your fingerprint.

What is the purpose of smart locks?

The main purpose of smart locks is to be able to control and monitor the security of your home remotely. Depending on the smart lock, you can send access to other people through your smartphone or gadget in order for them to enter your home.

Let’s say you’re far from home and a family member has to enter your home, you could give them access in a temporary virtual key or send a notification to your lock to unlock itself. It does sound like a great feature to have but it’s bound to have some downsides.

What are the security downsides of smart locks?

To start off with, the main general downside I see with smart locks is that they require some sort of connection. If you are solely depending on controlling your door lock through wi-fi, there is the possibility of network malfunction or power outage which in turn would lock you out of your own home.

In terms of security, like any smart home system, there is a potential security threat since it’s connected to your wi-fi. While all legit smart home systems encrypt their data and you’re hopefully using the proper security measures for your network, there could be security threats.

There are ways to improve the security of your smart home. Using proper settings for your network firewall, heavy duty passwords and most importantly, using a high-quality smart lock will increase your chances, but ultimately, there is still that possibility that a virtual criminal could find his way to you.


Conclusion – Which one is safer?

When you think about it, your door lock is the foundation of security that makes sure that the things you value in life stay safe from the outside. It might not occur to many as it’s so engraved in our everyday life, sometimes you might even forget about it.

Why do we lock our doors? It makes us feel safe. We know that no one is going to walk in, and we can relax knowing that we are safe when we are home and that our valuables are safe when we’re not home. While it is essential to safety and privacy in our life, we might not always think about the importance of having proper locks.

There will be a time for smart locks in the future, I believe however that we are not there yet. There are plenty of upsides to using a smart lock but there are also the downsides. I believe that no matter how many safety precautions you use, you will always fall short compared to when using traditional locks.

Traditional locks have been around for a long time and that time has allowed us to improve and make them safer. While there are still some downsides to traditional locks, I believe that they are still the better choice for your home.

I personally love smart home products and enjoy using them in many areas of my home. However, my door lock is not something that I trust with technology. You have to ask yourself if the comfort of using a smart lock is worth the risks.

As I mentioned, there will be a time for smart locks, but for now, I choose to stick to a traditional lock and let this technology grow a bit stronger. I hope this article has given you some insight if you’re considering upgrading your door lock.

If you’re just getting started with smart home technology, check out my other article on how to get started with your smart home as a beginner.

 

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