How to Harden a Smart Lock Against Unauthorized Access
Smart locks offer a number of advantages over traditional keyed locks. Those advantages include keyless entry and remote access. Still, there are disadvantages as well. At the top of the list is unauthorized access by hackers who find a way to get around built-in security features.
All smart devices are subject to hacking simply because they work on wireless networks. But before you assume that this means installing a smart lock is a bad idea, consider the fact that burglars can breach key locks pretty easily, too. No lock is 100% secure. So regardless of the lock system you choose, you need to do what you can to harden your home against unauthorized access.
There are ways to harden a smart lock. Vivint Smart Home, a company that installs and monitors security and home automation systems, explains how to do it in this post on their website. I will summarize their points here along with adding my own comments.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Usernames
Breaking in a door with a strategically placed kick is possible regardless of the type of lock installed. So in talking about breaching a smart lock, we’re not talking about kicking the door open. Instead, we are talking about breaching a wireless network in order to gain access to the lock.
Like all network devices and services, the most fundamental security practice is using strong passwords and usernames. Consumers should never use smart locks with the default usernames and passwords programmed by manufacturers. Those usernames and passwords are easily discovered online.
Instead, a consumer should choose a unique username that would be impossible to discover by learning something about them. As for passwords, they should be long and complex consisting of letters, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters.
2. Multi-factor Authentication
Vivint recommends enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible. A common example most everyone understands is requiring username, password, and access code to gain entry to a network. You enter your username and password, click submit, and wait for an access code to be sent to your phone. You then enter that code to gain access.
Remember, we are talking about breaching a smart lock by gaining access to your network. Protecting your network with multi-factor authentication significantly boosts security.
3. Secure the Router
Next up is the practice of securing your router. You are using a Wi-Fi router to enable a wireless smart lock, so make sure the router is protected with the latest wireless security protocols – like WPA. It also helps to hide your network’s SSID. Hidden networks are harder to discover.
In addition, do not use the default username and password programmed into your router. Change both before connecting any devices to it.
4. Use a Trusted Brand
Finally, it is probably a wise idea to stick with a trusted brand. Lesser-known brands are not automatically less secure, but the chances of a well-known brand going the extra mile to ensure quality and security are pretty good.
An added benefit of going with a trusted brand is finding a smart lock that fully integrates with other smart home devices. Integration opens the door to endless possibilities including voice control and tying your smart lock to your phone’s GPS.
It might seem as though smart locks are inherently less secure then keyed locks. While that can be debated endlessly, the fact is that smart locks can be hardened against unauthorized access. They should be, by the way. Any lock you are trusting to secure your house should be hardened in whatever way you can to prevent unauthorized entry. Otherwise, what is the point?