Browse Definitions:

smart lock

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A smart lock is an electronic and mechanical locking device that opens wirelessly with an authorized users’ authentication.

In a smart home, smart locks allow a homeowner to enter their home or provide others access without requiring a traditional key. Instead, the user uses their smartphone or a key fob to wirelessly verify and mechanically unlock the door. Smart locks are an extension of home automation into home security.  As a connected device, smart locks can be considered a part of the internet of things (IoT).

Many smart lock systems use mobile apps or websites to allow homeowners to grant access to third parties by sending a virtual key. Virtual keys can be sent by SMS text message or email, enabling access to guests or service personnel. Once received, these encrypted digital keys allow access to the smart lock for a preset period of time. On top of regulating access, many smart locks log access, providing the means to monitor use of a given secured door. Some smart locks feature a camera, which provides a picture of those accessing the door and makes for an easily referenced photo log.

Potential vulnerabilities in smart locks do create security concerns. Security advisors recommend that smart locks should not necessarily be thought of as more secure than a conventional lock and key and recommend that users think carefully about settings and options.

This was last updated in November 2017

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