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Many homeowners and business owners alike worry that smart locks can be hacked. And it’s true, though uncommon: smart locks can be hacked. Many AirBnB hosts have turned to using smart locks for their home so they don’t have to meet their guests to give them a key. But are there ways that you can prevent your smart lock from being hacked?

Ways smart locks can be hacked

The ways in which traditional key locks can be compromised are pretty straightforward. Thieves can pick, smash or otherwise destroy the locks to gain entry. If you leave your keys hidden in the yard or have multiple keys floating around, criminals could find them and let themselves right in.

With smart locks, you eliminate the vulnerability of physical keys, but you also open the door to hackers, so to speak. Here’s how:

  • Password hijacking: Just like with all password-protected services and devices, anyone with the password can access it. If your smart lock system password isn’t strong, you make a hacker’s job easier to guess and use it. Once a hacker figures out your password, they have control over your door.
  • Manufacturer vulnerabilities: Over the years, there have been cases in which manufacturer flaws and oversights have been shown to provide easy access to customers’ homes via smart locks. These include things such as storing customer passwords in plain text (i.e. making them easy for anyone who accesses their system to read and steal) and failing to include sufficient software to prevent other methods hackers use, such as decompiling APK (Android Package Kit) files, device spoofing (essentially device identity theft) and replay attacks (akin to digital eavesdropping). Without the right protections in place, hackers could be able to access your account and potentially your home.
  • Phone theft: Because smart locks are controlled via an app, if your smartphone is stolen, criminals may then be able to open the app and unlock your home. Know that some smart locks open if the phone is detected nearby (even if the phone is locked), so if a thief has your phone and shows up on your doorstep, it could automatically open and grant them access.
  • Lock removal: Just like with traditional locks, thieves with tools can physically tamper with, remove and destroy smart locks all together.

How to prevent hacking for your smart lock

There are some ways to lower the risk of a smart lock getting hacked:

  • Protect your password: Choose a unique password for each of your smart locks that isn’t easy to guess (1234, anyone?). Once you choose them, make sure to change them frequently and don’t give them to anyone you don’t implicitly trust.
  • Update software frequently: Manufacturers are constantly trying to outsmart criminals and will frequently release software updates. Always download them as soon as they’re available.
  • Consider an alternative electronic lock: While all smart locks are electric, there are electric locks that aren’t smart—meaning they don’t operate over Bluetooth or W-Fi. Some operate via a keypad, while others grant access with a key fob or access card. These “dumb” electric locks still provide the convenience of keyless entry, but they eliminate hacking risks.