Smart garage door openers have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their convenience and ability to integrate with home automation systems.
However, as with any new technology, questions arise about their safety and security. The rise of internet-connected devices has brought about new vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, potentially leading to serious consequences.
In this article, we ask the question are smart garage door openers safe and we look at the steps you can take to ensure your garage remains secure.
- What Is A Smart Garage Door Opener?
- Are Smart Garage Doors Safe?
- How To Make Your Garage Door Safer
- Related Questions
- Related Articles
What Is A Smart Garage Door Opener?
But before we get into the details, what is a smart garage door opener, and how does it differ from a standard electronic garage door?
An old-school garage door opener allows you to open your garage door by pressing a button on a remote device. But in order for the button to work, you still have to be within range of the garage door. The range is usually between 50 and 100 meters.
A smart garage door opener is connected to your home’s WiFi and that means that you can open and close your garage door from anywhere you happen to be.
With a smart garage door opener, you can check whether your garage door is currently open or closed. You can also receive alerts that tell you when it opens or closes. You can even get an activity report that shows you every time the garage door opened or closed and what time of day it happened.
It’s important to point out that a smart garage door opener doesn’t replace your existing garage door mechanism. It is simply a device that ‘learns’ the code from the main unit of your garage door opener. Once it has done that, you are able to open and close your garage door from your smartphone.
Are Smart Garage Doors Safe?
So what are the risks of having a smart garage door hacked?
Any garage door opener can potentially be hacked. This applies to smart and ‘non-smart’ garage door openers.
A person with a ‘code grabber’ could get the code from any electronic garage door and then use that code to open the garage door.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Firstly, the person using the code grabber would have to be physically close by.
Secondly, most new garage door openers use encryption, which adds a layer of security and makes it more difficult for someone to grab your code.
And thirdly, the latest garage door openers use ‘rolling codes’ rather than fixed codes. With rolling codes, the code changes every time the garage door opens or closes. That means that someone using a code grabber may get a code, but that code will no longer work.
But what about the Wi-Fi connection? Doesn’t that make my smart garage door vulnerable?
That’s true: a smart garage door opener is connected to your Wi-Fi network. And that means that someone who hacks your WiFi could potentially open your garage door.
But this is unlikely to happen, especially if you have a strong password for your home WiFi. You can make your home Wi-Fi even more secure by using two-factor authentication. This is another layer of security: in addition to the password, you also need to enter a code that you receive as an SMS on your smartphone.
To make your garage door even more secure, you can put your smart devices on a different Wi-Fi network from the one you use for Internet access and entertainment. That way, if you have given your WiFi password to guests, they still won’t be able to control your smart devices.
How To Make Your Garage Door Safer
But if you are still worried about the security of your smart garage door, here are seven tips for making your garage more secure.
#1 . Cover garage windows
Cover over all garage windows – if people cannot see what’s inside your garage it’s less likely they will want to break in.
#2. Don’t keep valuables in your garage
Don’t store anything of great value in your garage, other than your car. The less reason you give for thieves to break in, the less likely it is to happen.
#3. Install motion-sensitive lights
Install lights with a motion sensor in your garage and around the exterior of your garage. Motion sensor lights make intruders think they are being watched.
#4. Integrate your opener with a built-in security camera
Link a security camera to your smart garage door opener to give you video monitoring and video recording of all activity. The camera triggers when the garage door opens.
#5. Install an alarm system on the garage doors
Add an alarm sensor to your garage door. These devices let the alarm system know if the garage door has been left open and also alert you every time the garage door opens.
#6. Get software updates
The manufacturers of garage door openers often update their software to keep it up-to-date with the latest security threats. Make sure you download firmware updates for your garage door as they become available.
#7. Secure your Wi-Fi network
Ensure your Wi-Fi network is protected from hackers by using a strong password. You can also add two-factor authentication so that you need not only the network password but also a four or five-digit code delivered by SMS to your mobile phone.
Smart garage door openers are safe, especially if your door opener uses encrypted data and rolling codes.
The connection between the garage door opener and your WiFi network is potentially a security weak spot. But with a strong password and two-factor authentication, you can virtually eliminate any threat to your WiFi network.
Can MyQ garage opener be hacked?
Theoretically, yes. But when a team from McAfee rolled up their sleeves and tried to hack a Chamberlain MyQ Hub garage door opener, they found it wasn’t that easy. They looked at three main vectors that we began to look at three main vectors for weaknesses in security: local network, remote access (API, or third-party integration), and RF communications between the sensor and the Hub.
The risk of being hacked is low:
“…the likelihood of a real-world attack on this target is low, based on the complexity of the attack and installation footprint…Chamberlain has made clear efforts to build a secure product and appears to have eliminated much of the low-hanging fruit common to IoT devices”.
How do I stop thieves from opening my garage door?
Here are the top three tips for preventing thieves from opening your garage door.
- Install motion-sensor lighting outside your garage door. Burglars like to work under cover of darkness so it puts them off their game when they are suddenly in the spotlight.
- Never leave your garage door remote in your car. Treat it like a key and attach it to your key chain.
- Hide your stuff. Thieves seldom break into a garage without knowing there’s something valuable inside. Covering your garage windows is one of the most effective ways to keep your garage safe.
What is the most secure garage door opener?
The most secure garage door openers are those that use ‘rolling codes’. A rolling code (also called a hopping code) device generates a new code every time the garage door is opened. This prevents an eavesdropper from recording the transmission and then replaying it at a later time to make the receiver ‘unlock’.
These three models of garage door openers all use rolling codes:
Can someone else ‘remote open’ my garage door?
Only if they have your garage door remote. And that’s why you should treat it like a key and keep it on your key chain.
Can thieves steal your garage door code?
In theory, a thief could use a ‘code grabber’ to record the transmission between your remote and your garage door opener. But they would have to be outside your house at the exact moment you open your garage door. Also, if your garage door opener uses rolling codes, any code they managed to steal would already be expired.