Smart locks are gradually finding their way into people’s homes but the most recent versions of these wirelessly connected security devices may accelerate the rate of adoption by consumers. A recent report from Allied Market Research predicts significant adoption on a global scale, especially among the working population for whom the safety of aged parents and children remains a major concern. With their enhanced safety features, “smart locks address these issues with highly sophisticated remote monitoring technologies,” the report says. The company’s analysis for China forecasts a lucrative CAGR of 19.8 per cent growth in the smart lock sector between 2017 and 2023, with “significant demand generation from Hong Kong”. Across Greater China, the growth in the smart lock market is being driven by domestic players including Yunding Network Technology (Beijing), Nuki Home Solutions, Guangdong Hutlon Technology, Guangdong Archie Hardware and Kaadas. They compete against global players eager to expand their market presence, including Honeywell International, Panasonic Corporation, Vivint, Assa Abloy and Samsung SDS. Safety concerns Smart locks are convenient but, as with any digital technology, they can be hacked. Just how safe are they? Stuart Madnick, MIT Sloan Professor of Information Technology, cautions about the hackability of any internet-connected device, including smart locks. “I would apply the same advice that I give to any IoT (Internet of Things) device: fully understand the benefits you are expecting; realise that any IoT device is likely to be hackable, so understand the ‘worst case’ situation; and (then) determine which is more important to you,” he says. However, he does see value in the added security smart locks provide, such as using a camera to see and record whoever is at the door, and the convenience of being able to remotely operate a door. Manufacturers of secure smart locks are responding to new threats by patching newly discovered vulnerabilities in firmware, apps and attached cloud services. Good and certified products are characterised by reasonable patch management Maik Morgenstern, chief technology officer, AV-Test German company AV-Test, an independent institute, conducts regular reviews of smart locks as part of its research into smart home technology. Its testing shows smart lock technology has advanced considerably recently. “Manufacturers of secure smart locks are responding to new threats by patching newly discovered vulnerabilities in firmware, apps and attached cloud services. Therefore, good and certified products are characterised by reasonable patch management. Only in this way is a smart home device kept up-to-date,” says Maik Morgenstern, the chief technology officer at AV-Test. Morgenstern adds: “In our last (published) smart locks test (in 2017), we were amazed by how many manufacturers had already made meaningful security features available. On the other hand, in current tests we still find new ‘smart’ locks which are, for sure, not smart, but easy to open.” The company says the results of its latest tests will soon be available at its blog www.iot-tests.org . The test team expect high levels of security when a product is launched and assesses the components of a product, as well as the security of the data channels it uses. “We demand a well-implemented encryption for data transport, for example between the device and the online service, as well as between the online service and the app,” Morgenstern said. Not every device necessarily has to be networked with a cloud service, “but it should also be able to be operated in the in-house network,” he said. “We check which user data is captured by the device or app, whether it is necessary to collect this data to operate the device, and how the manufacturers handle their customers' data.” The bottom line, according to Morgenstern, is to choose a security-certified product that is kept up-to-date by the manufacturer with critical updates. Morgenstern chooses smart locks because of their convenience. “Whether it's about automatically opening doors, having both hands full of grocery bags, or letting a trusted craftsman access from afar, I do not want to miss that kind of comfort,” he said. So, what’s new in smart locks this year? 1. Lockly The lock: The latest from this Silicon Valley-based technology company is a series of smart locks, including the Secure Lux, Secure Plus and Secure Pro variations The technology: Six door access channels include a patented digital keypad, 3D fingerprint, mobile app, integration with the Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice assistants, and RFID card Security features: Lockly founder and chief executive Lee Zheng says the brand’s designs feature more than 30 global patent technologies. “All locks are equipped with the world’s first patented peek-proof keypad powered by an advanced algorithm activated by four buttons, each containing a set of three numbers that randomly reshuffle after each use,” he said. “This offers the highest level of privacy, security and convenience by preventing your access code from being revealed, spied upon or stolen.” 2. Yale The lock: This brand owned by Assa Abloy, the world’s biggest maker of locks, has expanded its Assure Lock line of smart locks with the Assure Lever. It is designed for doors without a deadbolt that lead to side entries, garages, basements or interior rooms The technology: This slimline model can be used as a stand-alone keypad lock, or as a smart lock integrated with the platform of your choice; including Amazon- and Google-compatible August, Z-Wave Plus that works with Samsung and ADT products, and Zigbee-compatible home and alarm systems Security features: The levers are key-free and tamper-proof. Doors can locked and unlocked using a keypad. Unique pin codes can be created for people you trust, and deleted when you no longer need them. 3. Amazon’s Key The lock: Some of the products supporting the Key home security suite include the all-new Schlage Encode Smart Wi-fi Deadbolt, the first Wi-fi-enabled smart lock for this platform; Key for Garage by the Chamberlin Group that tells homeowners if their garage door is opened; and Key for Business, a smart fob for drivers delivering Amazon packages to commercial and residential properties. The technology: “We recognised there was still a gap in simple, secure, high-performance and cost-effective, all-in-one access solutions,” said Lee Odess, the vice-president of the solutions providers business at Allegion, owners of the Schlage brand. Schlage Encode offers homeowners a single trusted device without the need for a gateway or hub. Security features: Users can create up to 100 unique codes for recurring, temporary or permanent access. Monitor access using customisable notifications linked to specific codes, or via the app’s activity log, which shows a historical record of who used the lock and when. 4. Altro Smart The lock: The California-based consumer electronics company’s first keyless smart lock with integrated video doorbell enables owners to manage and monitor home access from anywhere in the world, and answering the doorbell (with audio and video) from a smartphone The technology: Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and other smart technology, this product is said to integrate the best smart lock technology and new features into a single platform. “Our goal is to make everyone's home safer, with our keyless technology, which makes tampering with your lock virtually impossible,” said Anand Choudha, the founder of Altro Smart. Security features: Altro Smart includes motion sensors and will alert you every time someone is standing at your door, when they entered and when they left. Alerts and notifications are managed via the Altro Smart app.