Amazon is looking for its customers to grant it full access to their homes with the announcement of a new smart lock, Amazon Key. A perfect complement to its legacy delivery-based storefront and Amazon Prime product, Amazon Key brings issues of smart lock safety and security back into the spotlight. The majority of smart locks rely on some level of mobile connectivity, whether by bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but there are also biometric locks and ones that use RFID.  

The technology in some smart locks is called Bluetooth SMART, and it’s actually responsible for fostering the connection between the smartphone and the smart lock. These devices all use 128-bit AES encryption, which is the same encryption that is used for online banking. It could be vulnerable to attacks, but it would require a lot of work from a hacker to only open one door lock.

Since a hacker can remotely access a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network, it is possible for a lock to be opened remotely, making your home more vulnerable to a burglary.

Vulnerability is not just a function of the technology, but it’s also the fact that you are advertising to people outside of your home that you bought a new gadget. This could signal to burglars that you have items of value in your home. Smart locks may also pose security issues during power outages, requiring a manual backup key entry.

The future of retail may include smart locks and other technology but it is not without concern. While smart locks are convenient and allow you (or a delivery service) to enter your home with ease, they may not ever be able to truly compete with the peace of mind provided by a traditional lock and key.

Written by IEEE on November 8, 2017