Almost 25% of US households now have a smart lock. Alongside smart thermostats and lights, they have become one of the most popular Internet-of-Things devices, So popular that, in fact, they have a projected market value of $3.6 billion.
It’s no surprise that so many people rush to embrace the new technology. But while you can find more smart lock options than ever, there’s no guarantee they are either safe or practical.
Whether you’re in the market for a smart lock or already have one installed on your front door, here are a few of the downsides you need to be aware of.
Smart Lock Technology Can and Does Fail
The history of locks dates back 4,000 years. Even now, there’s still no such thing as a perfect traditional lock. Smart locks, which have only been around about ten years, naturally have some technological limitations.
For example, they only work with deadbolts. If you use a different locking mechanism, you won’t be able to use them. And if the door isn’t firmly closed, the smart lock may not secure the deadbolt.
Smart locks can also control the locks of one door, and technological issues can set you back. If the battery fails, you may find yourself locked out. Or, if your wireless network is down, you may not succeed in using remote functionality.
It’s one thing to try out new technology on a phone or computer, but this is the key to your house. When you choose smart locks, be sure to read the reviews before deciding on one. It’s worth paying a little extra to work around some of these issues:
Reliance on Phones
Smart locks communicate with phones. If your phone dies or you lose it, you could get locked out of your own home. It is especially true if you don’t have a backup option like other authorized devices.
Find one friend or relative who can be an authorized user on your smart lock account. If you ever run into any issues, he or she can unlock your door for you.
Batteries and Electricity
One cannot repeat this enough. Batteries can and do die. If you don’t have access to the backup key (if your system has one), then you’ll end up locked out. The only way may be hiring a locksmith who can damage your expensive new smart lock in the process.
Pay attention to the battery life of your lock and check to make sure you always have enough power remaining.
Smart locks are not cheap, especially compared to standard lock-and-key boxes of the past. You may also need a professional who can both install the lock and sync it to your network and phone. Malfunctions can also be costly to fix.
Price out your different options. Of course, with either traditional or smart locks, you don’t want to be cheap. But there are ways to find both excellent value and robust security.
Vulnerability to Hackers
This is the biggest weakness of smart locks. While they eliminate the threat of lock picking, hackers can override the system and gain entry to your home. Or they can target weak digital security protocols on the lock to access your network. Either way, it creates a severe security risk for you.
As with other Internet-of-Things devices, you may want to invest in a virtual private network (VPN). Setting up a VPN on your router can protect the connections of your smart lock or other devices with the latest encryption technology. It ensures that even if hackers intercept your virtual key, they can’t decrypt it to crack open your smart lock.
Smart Locks: Are They Worth It?
Smart locks are convenient. Not only do they enable easier access to your house, but they also bring features like guest pin codes, monitoring who comes in and out of your home, and a whole lot more.
Even with its weaknesses, this technology is only going to become more widespread until its standard in all new homes. But before you get one yourself, it’s vital to keep in mind the vulnerabilities of smart locks. Only then will you know what to do to protect your home.