Smart security measures—and smart locks in particular—have been praised for making home security more convenient and dragging the old lock and key into the modern age. Indeed, new generations of locks are being dreamed up by the likes of Google and Amazon at this very moment.
But don’t let that convince you to invest without proper consideration. After all, why change the tried and tested security methods if they still work? Besides, just because Google and other tech giants know what they’re doing with technology, that doesn’t guarantee they understand home security.
Before you shell out on a smart lock, you need to know exactly why you’re opting for one. Here are three questions to ask yourself before you make up your mind.
1. Do you need a new lock?
First and foremost, you need to ask if you even need a new lock. If you have a traditional lock that protects your property just fine, it may not be wise to replace it with a smart lock.
If your property already has a 5-lever mortice lock, you are already protected by one of the best types of lock on the market. These locks are especially difficult to force open, as the majority of the lock mechanism is secured within the door frame. Deadlocks and deadbolts also require significant force to be pried open. If you own any of these locks, you are already being kept extremely safe.
In fact, if you own a British Standard 3261 lock, you won’t find a safer alternative. If you want to check whether you lock is compliant with this standard, look for the BSI kitemark which all BS3261 locks are stamped with. If your lock is indeed British Standard-approved, there’s no security basis for getting a smart replacement. In their guide to choosing a smart lock, security experts Banham recommend that “a smart security system should serve as something of a plan B, with high quality traditional locks being the main means of your front door security.” In other words, if you do buy a new smart lock, don’t let it replace your old one completely.
2. Do you need the convenience?
The main selling point of smart locks is their convenience, and you have to hand it to them, they really do make home security easier. Tired of worrying about whether you remembered to lock your door or not? Smart locks can activate themselves. Want to be able to let your friends and family in remotely? Smart locks often come with their own corresponding app. Instead of relying on keys, fingerprint smart locks can even enable you to open your front door with the simple touch of a finger.
But this added convenience must be balanced against the potential sacrifice to your property’s day-to-day security, with real question marks over whether smart locks are safe. Yes, smart security has the ability to make your life easier, but the point of a door lock is ultimately to keep you and your property safe. Is the convenience really worth the risk?
3. Are you sacrificing security?
We have seen the shortcomings of smart security illustrated time and time again. Take Tapplock’s fingerprint smart lock that—quite remarkably—could be removed simply by using a screwdriver. Such oversights are not uncommon in the security world. Lockstate came under fire in 2017 after an erroneous firmware update rendered their smart locks unable to be locked or unlocked.
It’s not just mistakes that cause smart security products to be insecure; smart security products have also been dogged with hacking fears, something that simply would never be an issue with traditional security. Any product hooked up to the Internet of Things can be easily targeted by hackers. Research has found that smart security products can be hacked after a simple Google search—pretty terrifying stuff.
Ultimately, smart security products are primarily invented by tech-focused companies to be cool gadgets. The security merits can often be overlooked to the detriment of buyers. So really, after all of these, the main question we should all be asking ourselves is, are smart locks really worth it?