Are you tired of lugging around your keys? What about worrying about losing your keys? Nowadays, keypad locks offer an excellent solution to all of those inconveniences.
Keypad locks will provide keyless entry to your home. “That sounds great,” you might say, however, one question remains, namely, how safe are they?
Can keypad locks be hacked? Keypad locks can be hacked if the wireless network they are working over has not been set up and secured properly. Keypad locks that do not use any wireless signals cannot be hacked but are usually not a lot safer than standard locks as an experienced locksmith can pick them.
It is worth noting that having your keypad lock hacked is probably one of the least likely ways that somebody will enter your home.
However, they certainly can be hacked. It is worth knowing how that may happen and the best practices to reduce the odds of somebody actually doing it.
- 1 Do Keypad Locks Have Vulnerabilities?
- 2 Can All Keypad Locks Be Hacked?
- 3 What Are the Signs of a Keypad Lock That Has Been Hacked?
- 4 How to Prevent Your Keypad Lock From Being Hacked
Do Keypad Locks Have Vulnerabilities?
Some keypad locks will be very simple and easy to use. They do not really stand out from the rest as they do not have any sophisticated features. They will often not be connected to the internet and are thus a lot less likely to be hacked. (This does not make them thief-proof, though.)
However, there are other more advanced keypad locks capable of integrating with your smart home security devices. (Or at least be able to connect online, allowing you to control the keypad lock through an app on your phone.) Those net-connected keypad locks are usually at a higher risk of being hacked.
The Wireless Network
Usually, keypad locks on their own have no security issues. The problem with keypad locks can be considered more of a design issue. Keypad locks are designed to be accessible by any device from within the local network the keypad works on.
Frequently there will be no additional authentication required as long as the device is connected to the network. This means that if somebody manages to get access to your wireless network, they will, in theory, also be able to access your keypad lock and hack it.
The Length of the Passcode
The longer the passcode is, the more difficult it would be for somebody to guess it. It is that simple. Let’s compare a few different in length passcodes and how many variations are there—just to put things into perspective. (Most keypad locks allow for 4 to 6 digit long passcodes.)
- A 4 digit passcode has 10,000 different combinations;
- A 5 digit passcode has 100,000 different combinations;
- A 6 digit passcode has 1,000,000 different combinations;
You have to be careful what kind of passcode (or PIN) you are going to be using to unlock or lock your doors.
Researchers have found that many people use extremely easy to guess number sequences such as years, birthdays, number couplets, or classic number combinations such as 0000, 1234, 1111, etc. The experts have concluded that a little over 25% of the passcodes can be guessed by using some of those number sequences.
Keypad Wear and Tear
The other vulnerability of keypad locks is the keypad itself. If you have been using the same password for as long as you can remember, it may be time to change it.
Depending on the keypad’s quality, the individual buttons can start showing some low levels of wear and tear with time if you have been using them for a long time.
There are also other ways thieves can improve their odds. They can look for keys that are not dusty (which would imply those keys are regularly used) or try to use various techniques to discover latent fingerprints.
This allows intruders to scour each of the numbers in order to see which ones have been frequently used and make some educated guesses. This could quickly reduce the guessing game to a minimum.
Can All Keypad Locks Be Hacked?
For a keypad to be hacked, you need to have a way to communicate with it. This is why the keypad locks that are most vulnerable to hacking are the internet-connected ones.
But not all keypads will be connected to your wireless system. Thus not all keypad locks will have a signal that a hacker can intercept and use to their advantage. So does that make some keypads impossible to hack?
If we are concerned about semantics, the answer will be yes. However, this does not mean that they cannot be picked or bypassed in a different way.
The reality is some keypad locks can be bypassed quite easily using different low-skill techniques and methods.
I would like to focus your attention on the fact that there are different types of keypad locks. Some are attached to your already existing deadbolt, and others may come with their own deadbolt or fully-fledged door lock.
All of the standard deadbolts and locks can be picked fairly quickly by a skilled locksmith and pose a weakness on their own.
There are some keyless keypad locks on the market as well, but that does not make them safer as they can also have weaknesses that can be used.
For example, some keypad locks can be unlocked by following a very simple and basic trial and error method. You can see one such lock being unlocked in the video below.
Other keypad locks may be as easily defeated as placing a magnet on their side. This is demonstrated in the following video.
Even if you have done everything to protect your keypad lock from being hacked (more on this to follow), it is no secret that most of the locks can be picked in several minutes by experienced locksmiths.
Lastly, I believe it is important to note that some keypad locks will have a preset master code. When entered, that code will unlock the lock. Usually, this bit of information is always mentioned in the manual, but sometimes it can be overlooked.
What Are the Signs of a Keypad Lock That Has Been Hacked?
It may not always be easy to spot a keypad lock that has been hacked. The problem is that, usually, there are no clear telltale signs signifying a hacked lock. But there are a few things that you can try to keep in mind.
If your home security system and lock have been hacked, you may find that the lock and the other security devices respond a little slower than usual with noticeably higher latency.
Be sure to monitor your security system’s entry logs, if you are using one, as it will usually keep detailed records of the IP addresses of people who have accessed the system.
Watch for other strange behavior like changed passwords and security settings or increased network traffic.
How to Prevent Your Keypad Lock From Being Hacked
Everything may be considered hackable to a certain extent. (Sometimes it is a matter of time before somebody finds a loophole that they can use.) Much like how any lock is pickable if the thief has the experience, the right tools, and, most importantly, enough time.
However, there are some things that we can do to improve the security and reduce the odds of a keypad lock being hacked.
Setup a Separate LAN Network
Create a separate wireless network that will be used only for your smart home security devices. That way, you will reduce the collateral damage, so to speak, if somebody tried to hack your keypad lock.
Regularly Change Your Passcode
Do not forget to update the passcode of your keypad lock regularly. That way, you can reduce the wear and tear to only a few of the numbered keys. (It is recommended to clean your keypad lock to prevent dust buildup on the keys that are not used.)
Use Difficult to Guess Passwords
Always use a long, random password. The password should not follow any particular patterns or have any words. The best passwords are usually longer ones (more than six characters) with varying combinations of digits, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols.
This also applies to the app (if your keypad lock works with one) and your internet connection. Make sure to use two-factor authentication if and when available to make things extra hard for opportunistic hackers.
Secure Your Wireless Network
Often homeowners do not realize how vulnerable to hackers their wireless networks are.
Start by changing the SSID broadcasting and default SSID of your wireless network.
Make sure the wireless network is encrypted by a hard to hack network encryption like the WPA2-PSK.
Make sure you are using a reliable and trustworthy firewall, antivirus, and anti-malware software.
And as noted earlier, make sure your wireless network password is hard to guess.
Keep the App Firmware up to Date
If your keypad is net-connected and you can also use an app to control it, make sure it is always kept up to date. Smart home security devices and the subsequent apps are not perfect.
Companies work hard to update and fix any weaknesses and software vulnerabilities that come to their attention. As a result, they are rolling out security patches every now and then.
If you do not update the firmware of your smart lock, you expose your home to a higher risk of somebody taking advantage of those vulnerabilities.
Those updates will not always show up as a push notification, so it is recommended to regularly check for any software and security patches.
Setup a Second Layer of Security
I have mentioned it before, and I will say it again, there is no 100% thief-proof or hack-proof keypad lock. In fact, there is no thief-proof lock regardless of its kind.
This is why it is recommended never to rely simply on one layer of security.
Make sure you have a second layer of security. This will involve security cameras, door and window sensors, and motion sensors.
Professional monitored home security systems are always preferable as they offer excellent levels of security and will be a good deterrent to opportunistic thieves that may have found a way through or around your keypad lock.