Home James Lint Digital Door Locks: Controlling Your Home from Cyberspace

Digital Door Locks: Controlling Your Home from Cyberspace


By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Note: This blog post is the first in a series about technology.

To have competent cyber defense, you must first understand cyberspace. While the topic of cyberspace is too vast to cover in a single article, different technologies affect our overall cyber protection.

One new cyber protection technology is the digital door lock. A homeowner controls the lock remotely through an app, enabling him or her to manage home security remotely.

Wi-Fi Enabled Locks

This type of lock is useful for forgetful homeowners who want to double-check whether or not they locked the front door. The app enables the homeowner to look at a screen and quickly determine the status of the door lock.

The Wi-Fi lock also permits a door to be opened remotely. This feature is useful if a child comes home from school unexpectedly while the parents are away at work. Having a Wi-Fi lock will allow the parents to open the door remotely and let the child in.

A Wi-Fi lock also eliminates the need to hide a key around the door for emergencies. Having a Wi-Fi lock means a thief searching around your front door will not find a spare key.

These locks also allow you to monitor family activities, such as the time your teenagers actually come home. That information could be useful for conversations with teens about acceptable curfew times.

More importantly, in the event of a crime on your property the electronic records kept by the app on your phone or computer can provide the police with important information.

Bluetooth-Only Locks

Some digital door locks communicate only via Bluetooth technology. This feature improves the lock security, but it also takes away some functionality. With a Bluetooth-enabled device, usually a cellphone, the door will unlock when you get within range of the two-way signal.

Combined Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Enabled Locks

Other digital door locks use a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies. With the combination of these technologies, your door unlocks as you approach it with a Bluetooth-enabled device. The Wi-Fi technology allows you to lock a door remotely, eliminating a need to drive back to your house if someone forgot to lock a door.

Security Hazards of Digital Door Locks

Many digital door locks have batteries. Although a digital door lock will have a low battery indicator, you can lose connectivity to your lock if you fail to replace worn-out or dead batteries.

To protect your valuables, it is essential to have a strong password that thieves can’t easily figure out. For example, if you use 1234 or 1111 as your password for unlocking your door, a thief might try such familiar combinations until he hits on the right password and gain enter to your home. For the same reason, it is risky to use birth dates or easy-to-guess patterns on the numeric keypad.

There is also the hazard of forgetting your password. If you do, you are locked out and will have to make an embarrassing call to another family member who has the password. Or, you might have to call a locksmith to open the door for you, which is even more embarrassing and more expensive.

Digital locks can save industry cost on maintaining the locks, changing keys, and using special locksmiths.  Much of this can be accomplished from the technology savvy office geek or IT office. There are a variety of reasons to use them, but in the future as people and business looks for cost efficiencies, that will be the driving force of the implementation of these locks.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in South Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”