Glitches In The Age Of Smart Locks

There are likely to be various glitches on the road to the Internet of Things.

With so many smart and connected devices, there’s plenty of opportunity for a failure somewhere within the system.

In a widely reported case earlier this year, security at an Austrian luxury hotel with smart door locks was breached so that the computers controlling key cards could not be programmed to unlock the doors. The hotel switched back to traditional keys.

Many hotels are moving to smart locks that can be opened via smartphones. For example, Hilton already has the system at more than 1,000 hotels.

Smart locks also are made for houses and major lock maker Schlage last week introduced a deadbolt that could be unlocked remotely via an Android phone.

While Internet-connected locks can be ‘smart,’ faults can occur via the networks they connect to.

A recent case involving smart locks is a good example.

As part of its service, Airbnb offers remote locks that can be controlled remotely so that property managers can generate guest codes from their phone or computer and delete the codes used by a previous guest.

Airbnb offers a $50 discount on the remote locks and suggests that the smart lock “is the best way to manage and monitor Airbnb properties.” Here are other suggested benefits from the program:

  • Give temporary codes to guests through the Airbnb booking system integration with RemoteLock
  • Issue new codes or delete codes from your computer or phone
  • Know who enters your property and when
  • Receive email or text alerts when codes are used
  • No need for key exchanges or rekeying lock when keys are lost

However, some of the locks recently encountered a bit of a problem.  After an update was sent to the locks, some failed to reconnect to the company’s web service, making a remote fix impossible.

A letter sent by Nolan Mondrow, CEO of Lockstate, makers of the locks, to owners of the locks provided two options:

  • The back portion of the lock will need to be returned so the software on the lock can be repaired. Time to fix: five to seven days.
  • Lockstate can ship a replacement interior lock for the owner to replace and the faulty lock can be returned to Lockstate. Time to fix: 14 to 18 days.

As a bonus to those with dead locks, the lock maker will provide a year of free service for the lock to connect to the portal, allowing it to continue to receive the latest software updates.

6 comments about " Glitches In The Age Of Smart Locks".
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  1. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , August 21, 2017 at 3:53 p.m.

    I can really see the need for this. Have you ever tried to open a door with a key?  Wow, it takes forever to find the key, then you got to turn it in a position to enter the lock, then you have to force the key into the keyway, and I hope you been to the gym, because then you have to wrangle it a quarter turn to get the door to open.  Way too many steps to follow here.  But then we could get a credit card key and swipe it, but that too requires keeping track of the location of the card, so I guess using your smart phone is really the best, but then someone still has to push the door open............but just remeber , that almighty smartphone becomes exposed once again to your data.  If you lose the key or credit card key is lost, you can go to the desk and get another one.  I'm sure that is less than 14-18 days.    The high-tech cost of laziness becomes very intrusive

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 21, 2017 at 6:27 p.m.

    A similar argument can be made around the slow adoption of mobile payments, Mark.

  3. Barry Robertson from Boomer-Plus Consulting Group, August 22, 2017 at 3:10 p.m.

    Smartlocks aren't for everyone, but they do offer a number of additional conveniences vs regular keys - have one myself. Re Airbnb renters, delayed/late night arrivals don't need to wake the owner or require a "hidden" key - and access is changed for every guest, so a lost key doesn't involve changing the locks. Ditto shared workspaces where keys - physical or electronic - tend to wander off with the occasional worker. For homeowners, one can grant unforeseen emergency access to neighbors from across the city, country, world ... in bad weather one can unlock the door from inside the car, grab the groceries and/or or the baby or oxygen tank - whatever - and scurry in faster. Sure, conventional locks/keys have been around for 2,000 years and won' t be going away anytime soon, but smartlocks have a growing role - meet the new boss (data hackers) same as the old boss (lock-pickers)

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 22, 2017 at 3:22 p.m.

    And that is the other side of the story Barry, thanks for highlighting.

  5. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , August 22, 2017 at 4:17 p.m.

    Good explanation won me at "the new boss".

    I think hackers are more dangerous, because they leave no damage behind that can be
    physically verified , like a break-in.  I just think having your whole life of data teathered to a phone will blow up in your face one day.  Your front door, your car, bank info, records , accounts, pass words and finding out the temperature in your lettuce crisper is more than I can handle.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, August 22, 2017 at 4:45 p.m.

    On the positive side, Mark, securitiy is a known issue and many in the market are working on continuous improvements. Also, to your point, not everyone will opt in to this.

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