‘Secure,’ ‘Smart’ Fingerprint Scanning Lock Doesn’t Work So Well

There’s a new smart lock in town – electronic, bluetooth enabled, fingerprint scanning, and easy to hack and open with any device!

By DAVID on June 13, 2018
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Gone are the days of a simple lock-and-key. Gone are padlocks, soon to be replaced by new “smart locks.” Although, sometimes in the world, the good old fashioned tried-and-true old-tech should still be used, because sometimes it’s just the best method.

Take this new smart lock for example. It’s battery powered, bluetooth enabled, and has a fingerprint scanner built-in. Awesome, right? Nobody has your fingerprint, that’s got to be one of the most secure methods to open a lock short of a pop quiz about your best friend’s street and your mother’s maiden name, right? Well, not exactly. See, there was a flaw in the software inside the lock, and if you have some “basic” knowledge of how the bluetooth wireless tech works, you can get in. And I don’t mean get in to your own lock, I mean any of them. In a matter of seconds.

The locks, built by a tech startup, sound like a good, secure, and simple way to lock up your belongings. They’re bluetooth enabled, yes, but that’s where the flaw is. See, bluetooth chips in electronics are always powered. They go into a “low energy” mode when waiting in standby to be activated. Problem was in the case of the lock, when it was in “low energy” mode, it was also broadcasting the code needed to open the lock. If you could find that key (using even a regular smartphone), you could send the “open” command to the lock. Duh, and tah-dah!

The company that makes the locks has pushed an update to fix the problem, but as a consumer, you have to know there’s a problem to issue the patch. So if you’re planning on locking your things up, maybe stick to a regular lock. Keep the tech device on the shelf, at least for now. See some more details here.

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