Best Smart Locks For Your Home
We may forgive the Internet for being insecure; after all, it wasn’t designed to be secure. But locks certainly are, by definition. When you make something smarter it gets better, right? No, not always. Here's what you need to know about smart locks...
Which Smart Locks Actually Protect Your Home?
At the 2016 DEFCON security convention, researchers reported that 12 out of 16 smart lock models succumbed to a variety of “ridiculously easy to moderately difficult” attacks. Only one of the 12 vendors responded to the researchers’ alert, and that one said, “We know it's a problem, but we're not gonna fix it.”
All of the locks tested used Bluetooth Low Energy tech, a security feature that supports only Bluetooth connectivity at very short range (hence requiring low energy). Your front door lock should not be able to connect to a hacker’s WiFi network hundreds of feet away. Yet WiFi is one of the most popular features of smart locks, because it enables the convenience of smart locks.
With a smart lock on your own WiFi network, you can lock or unlock it from anywhere on the Internet. Got an AirBnB property? No problem; you can give the arriving guests access remotely, and issue them temporary digital “keys.” Amazon have a delivery for you? No problem; Amazon sells branded Amazon Key systems that includes a camera and a smart lock.
The four locks that could not be hacked in the 2016 DEFCON testing were made by Noke (“no-key”), Masterlock, Kwikset, and August. I'd never heard of the other eight vendors: Quicklock, iBlulock, Plantraco, Ceomate, Elecycle, Vians, Okidokey and Mesh Motion. Hopefully they have smartened up their locks since then, or gone out of business. Current market leaders Yale and Schlage were not mentioned in the DEFCON report.
Noke makes commercial locks, and Masterlock focuses on smart padlocks. So let’s look at some of the most popular consumer-level smart locks being sold today.
The Kevo 2nd Generation system from Kwikset ($179) is expensive enough on its own, but you have to spend another $99 for its hub to get compatibility with Alexa and your smartphone. (Who doesn't want to say "Alexa, unlock my door"?) Otherwise, it works only with a touch-to-open Bluetooth Low Energy fob or a traditional key, which isn’t much fun for the money. When it debuted, the Kevo 2nd Gen cost $229; the Amazon price has been falling steadily as this product has racked up 40% 1-star ratings from buyers.
The August Lock 3rd Generation ($229) gets better reviews (56% 5-star, “only” 12% 1-star). But it, too, requires purchase of a separate hub ($65) to work with Alexa, bringing the total up to nearly $300. There’s also an optional pushbutton keypad for those AirBnB temporary access codes, and for the unhandy $99 will buy “expert installation.” Incongruously, high-end August has partnered with plebeian Walmart to offer Amazon-like home delivery while you are out. Surely, this is only an ill-conceived pilot program!
Schlage’s Connect Century Touchscreen Deadbolt ($170) approaches the star-average I’d like to see in a lock; 4.5 out of 5, with 5% 1-star and 75% 5-star ratings. Its smudge-resistant keypad means no smartphone or fob is needed. But it is compatible with third-party hubs that conform to the Z-wave standard so remote access and integration with other smart home appliances is possible. It includes a loud siren alarm to scare off would-be burglars who mess with your door.
Yale’s Assure Lock ($149) has a keypad, comes with two traditional keys, and works with your smartphone via a Yale app that can issue digital keys. But it is not compatible with Alexa, according to one reviewer who tried twice, which may account for its dramatically lower popularity. It seems Z-wave is not enough, Alexa also requires “Zigbee” compatibility. But if you don’t need to talk to your lock, this one looks like a great deal.
In researching this article, I found that tech press reviewers give their highest ratings to the smart locks that actual buyers rate lowest. The former tend to get all excited about shiny new things, no matter how impractical they may be, while the latter just want something that works. There’s a lesson here for shoppers and for tech press reviewers.
Do you have a smart lock on your home? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Jun 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Best Smart Locks For Your Home (Posted: 15 Jun 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved