Are Smart Garage Door Openers Safe? (Can They Be Hacked?!)
“Locks keep honest people honest”.
Are smart garage door openers safe? Can they be hacked?
Yes, smart garage door openers are safe. Most use advanced encryption for data transmission. But the reality is anything connected to a network can be hacked. That said, the odds of someone breaking into your garage by brute force are still far greater than the odds of a hacker gaining access.
In fact, you’re better off spending your time and energy doing some basic things to make your garage more secure overall than worrying about your smart garage door opener being compromised.
How secure are smart garage door openers?
Smart garage door openers are some of the safest smart devices on the market, and for good reason. Similar to smart locks, they protect access to your home, your valuables, and your loved ones.
Like a lot of other smart devices these days, smart garage door openers typically use advanced encryption for data transmission to protect your privacy.
But security never ends with the device itself. Almost all smart devices “talk” to other services run by the manufacturer, or by third parties. Everything your device “talks” to is another link in the chain, and a potential security vulnerability.
For example, many WiFi enabled smart devices send their data to the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud. A vulnerability with AWS, however unlikely, could result in a vulnerability with your smart device.
The simple fact is that anything connected to a network can be hacked.
But for the most part, the level of time, effort, expertise, and frankly luck, required to hack your smart garage door opener, is simply not worth it to a would-be hacker.
Security features of smart garage door openers
In my opinion, the tiny possibility that your smart garage door opener will get hacked is greatly outweighed by all the security benefits it provides.
One of the best features of smart garage door openers is the ability to monitor your garage door remotely.
Through a mobile app, you’ll be able to see if your garage door is open or closed, from anywhere in the world.
You’ll even have an audit log of all the times throughout the day that your garage door was opened, and for how long.
You can customize your smart garage door opener to automatically alert you when:
- Your garage door is opened
- The garage door is left open for an extended period of time
- The garage door is opened during a certain window of time during the day that you don’t expect it to be
And of course, the ability to close, or open, your garage door while you’re away from home is a huge security benefit over traditional garage doors.
Say you left for work in the morning and forgot to close the garage door. No problem, just take out your smartphone and click a button. Voila, garage door closed.
Your kids are home from school early and need a way into the house? While you’re on the phone with them you can open the garage door and let them in.
This level of control is one of the big benefits to having a smart garage door opener.
Keep your smart garage door opener secure
There are a few things you can do to greatly reduce the risk of your smart garage door opener being compromised.
Get software updates
Manufacturers of these devices know that vulnerabilities can, and do exist, so they frequently make updates and patches to their software.
They even go as far as hiring third party security companies to audit their products from time to time to look for these vulnerabilities, expose them, and then inform them on how to fix the problem.
So make sure that your smart garage door opener is getting these updates when they come!
Secure your WiFi network
Even more important than making sure your device gets regular security updates is ensuring that your home network is secure! That means having a strong password, and even using a VPN (virtual private network), if possible.
(If you’re interested in how to come up with a secure password, take a look at this article).
If someone can gain access to your WiFi network, they can gain access to all the devices connected to it. So take the time to secure it!
Make sure your garage is secure
Aside from making sure your smart garage door opener gets routine security updates and securing your WiFi network, you can make some easy, non-technical changes to your garage itself to increase security.
Again, more likely than not, if someone is going to break into your garage, it’s not going to be by hacking your device. They’re going to get in by other means.
Cover your garage windows
This is a really simple approach that has multiple benefits.
For starters, a would-be burglar won’t have the luxury of assessing the situation inside your garage – what’s the layout, possible means of entry/exit, etc.
And what’s out of sight, is out of mind.
If a burglar doesn’t know about all the expensive tools you keep in the back corner of your garage, they aren’t necessarily going to spend the time to break in.
Regardless of whether you simply block your windows with shelves/boxes, blinds, or a translucent film, take the time to do this.
Upgrade exterior lighting
A well lit garage, and house for that matter, is a great thief deterrent. Burglars target poorly lit homes.
Don’t let that be you.
It costs very little to add motion sensor flood lights above your garage doors. That alone could be the thing that successfully scares someone off.
Secure your emergency garage door release
Your garage has an emergency door release lever (usually with a red string attached) that, when pulled, allows you to close your garage door manually in the event of a power outage.
Burglars have been known to exploit these release levers by fishing something like a coat-hanger through the garage door, from the outside, triggering this lever to open the garage door.
By using a small zip tip to secure this emergency door release lever, you can prevent this from happening.
Don’t keep valuables in your garage
This one is also obvious, but still worth mentioning.
Aside from your cars, I personally wouldn’t leave anything of real value out in my garage, or in my car.
There are many spots throughout your home that offer more security than the garage.
Don’t get complacent and start dumping everything in your garage. Think about what you’re putting out there and ask yourself how comfortable you are with it being somewhat exposed.
If someone does break into your garage
In the unfortunate event that someone actually does succesfully break into your garage, there are still a few things you can do.
For starters, make sure you always have a secondary lock on the door that accesses your home. And lock it! Don’t make it easy on a burglar and grant then access to your entire home once they get into your garage.
You can also think about installing security cameras in your garage. This won’t stop someone from stealing your stuff once they’re in, but it could help identify the thief after the fact.
Additionally, consider installing an alarm system. Anything that can “surprise” a burglar has the potential to stop them. Loud noise is no exception.
Conclusion: Are smart garage door openers safe?
So, are smart garage door openers safe?
Well, anything connected to a network can be hacked, and smart garage door openers are no exception. But the likelihood of your garage door opener actually getting hacked is almost zero.
This tiny possibility is greatly outweighed by all the security benefits smart garage door openers provide. Like the ability to monitor your garage door, get alerts when it’s open, and control it remotely.
You can keep your device secure by making sure it receives routine security updates and by securing your home WiFi network.
Ultimately, burglars are far more likely to break into your garage by traditional means. So take basic steps like blocking garage windows, improving exterior lighting, securing the emergency garage door release, and keeping valuables inside your home, to reduce this risk.
Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate getting a smart garage door opener for my home.
What about you?