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Illustration of an ominous computer hacker.

Can a Smart Lock Be Hacked?

They’re efficient, they’re sleek, and they make your home smarter and more secure. What are we talking about? Smart locks, of course — and they’re getting more popular all the time. Over 25% of people who took part in a recent study by Parks Associated said they planned to install a smart electronic lock within 12 months. In theory, smart locks can be hacked, but with the right measures in place, their benefits greatly outweigh their vulnerabilities.

Smart Locks Rule

People love gadgets. Even people who say they don’t like technology end up falling in love with devices that make things simpler for them. Why send a letter when you can send an email? Why use a key when you can install smart home security? Electronic locks look slick, and they come with major benefits, like these:

  • Walk straight into your home without using a key when you connect to your lock via Bluetooth.
  • Let relatives into your house while you’re at work.
  • Integrate with other smart gadgets, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
  • They look awesome on people’s front doors.
Representational image of man using smartphone to connect to a myriad of smart devices.
A man using smartphone to connect to a myriad of smart devices.

What about hackers, though? Can they turn your net-enabled lock into a back door? Read on to find out how to bust the most common smart security hacks.

Smart Security Hackbusters

Forget Mission Impossible for a moment — unless you have the Pink Panther in a safe in your bedroom, that is. Most thieves are opportunistic villains rather than clever cat burglars. If you understand their techniques, you can usually stop them before they get you.

The Hack: They Steal Your Phone

Criminals who know you have a Bluetooth-enabled lock and want to get into your home might try to steal your phone to gain entry. Pretending to be you, they simply walk into your home and walk out with your gear.

The Fix: Wipe Your Phone

To keep tabs on your phone, make sure you keep location services switched on — if you have an Apple device, turn on Find My iPhone before your device disappears. If your phone goes missing and you suspect it’s been stolen, check the Void of Oblivion between the driver’s seat and the central console in your car first. If you can’t find your gadget, use Find My iPhone (or Find My Device for Android phones) to place an activation lock on your phone or erase your data remotely.

The Hack: They Use a Bluetooth Sniffer

Wiley hackers with coding knowledge and a few pieces of legal hardware can “sniff” information transmitted via Bluetooth. They use something like an Ubertooth One to listen in, and then they decode information using software.

The Fix: Secure Bluetooth

First of all, make sure your Bluetooth-enabled lock uses a secure password authentication system rather than a pass-the-hash system or — Shock, horror! — an unencoded password. Because it’s quite complex, Bluetooth sniffing is beyond the scope of most opportunistic criminals. If in doubt, change your passcodes frequently and keep an eye out for suspicious people using laptops less than 30 feet from your front door.

The Hack: They Hack into Your Wi-Fi

Dedicated hackers can break into a home security hub and extract the passwords they need to undermine your home. In theory, if a hacker got hold of the main SSH private key for a privately owned apartment block, they could open every door in the building. Yikes!

The Fix: White Hat Hackers and Strong Passwords

For every bad hacker, there’s a good hacker. Lock manufacturers regularly subcontract with white hat hackers, who are employed to find vulnerabilities within smart security systems.

Importantly, to hack into smart home devices, criminals need to connect to your Wi-Fi. To stop them, secure your network with a robust password. Bingo: no more unwanted guests on your wireless internet.

Also: locks that use Bluetooth instead of WiFi connectivity helps with this. Especially since Bluetooth requires proximity to use. So if someone’s trying to hack into your Bluetooth-enabled lock, you — or your neighbors — will likely see them.

Closeup of the Turbolock Plus app on a smartphone, opening a TL111 PRO smart lock.
Bluetooth-enabled smart locks, like the TL111 PRO, require proximity to engage the lock.

The Truth: Smart Houses Outsmart Thieves

Much has been made of the fallibility of smart tech, but if you set it up correctly, your smart house can save your bacon. Not only are smart locks harder (or impossible) to pick than traditional locks, but they’re also compatible with smart home hubs. If you plan in advance, you can use your smart hub to lock unexpected visitors into your home, set off smart alarms and call the police simultaneously. Game over. So, you might think of your smart setup as a series of booby traps, rather than a liability. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Image cutout of the Turbolock Plus app on a smartphone and a series of office doors.
Check password/lock history from anywhere in the world using the Turbolock Plus app, only for Turbolock smart locks.

Smart security systems are more affordable than ever, and if the latest research is correct, a large number of American households plan to replace traditional locks with electronic locks in the next year. If you’re one of those people, make sure you choose a lock with great security features, like the Turbolock TL-111 PRO, secure your Wi-Fi and stay away from easy-to-guess passwords. With a few simple security measures, you can use smart technology to make your home safer.

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