How secure are keyless entry products?

When looking at the standard of security in keyless entry locks, the need for upgraded security features, including white box cryptography to prevent the exposure of confidential information and Secure Encapsulation for Application (SEAL), continues to provide peace of mind for keyless entry users. However, as keyless entry locks gain momentum, the question remains, ‘just how secure are these products?’  

In a bid to increase the security of keyless entry products, several of Allegion’s Schlage electronic locks now have the ability to request random security codes. When enabled, the random codes prevent fingerprint marks on keypads, which are often used to identify the code by burglars or anyone watching from knowing the code, according to Allegion’s Craig Patterson, Marketing Manager – Australia and New Zealand. 

“Additional features of Schlage electronic locks include an in-built alarm, detecting door attacks and the choice of pin codes, being four to six digits in length,” Mr Patterson said.

More recently, there has been a definite shift in consumer’s attitudes towards digital locks, which once were considered a niche product just a few years ago, but are becoming increasingly mainstream, according to Mr Patterson.

“Digital locks may have been considered a niche product by consumers a few years ago, however they have increasingly become mainstream. As the products become more reliable, styles improve, and users become more comfortable with the technology. The move towards home automation has also supported the growth of both stand-alone digital locks and smart/connected locks. Choice in the market has increased dramatically over the years, with various price points and technologies now appealing to a wider variety of consumers,” Mr Patterson said.

When speaking on innovation in the market over the last five years, Mr Patterson said the safety and security market has grown in leaps and bounds during this time, particularly with the launch of many product innovations.

“The hardware market is traditionally a slow innovation mover. However, with changes in technologies, styles and consumer tastes, there has been a market shift towards new and innovative door hardware. This has been everything from smart technology, to new finishes, to designs. The material the hardware is made from is also transforming the way we develop products,” Mr Patterson said.

“Smart/connected locks, particularly, remain an area of substantial change and development. This is also due to increased demands for new finishes and products to continually meet developing accessibility requirements,” he said.

Looking towards the next 12 months, Allegion will continue to invest in style and innovation. Both the Gainsborough and Schlage brands have several exciting products coming to market over the next 12 months, Mr Patterson said.

“With the market remaining so competitive, it is important we continue to push our point of difference in the market, which are our strong brands, including Gainsborough, Schlage, Brio and Austral,” he said.

Factors beyond generational demographics determine the likelihood of a consumer’s interest in keyless entry, according to ASSA ABLOY.

Drivers of keyless entry

When it comes to keyless entry locks, ASSA ABLOY Project Manager, Eric Sindel believes there are several factors, beyond generational demographics, that determine the likelihood of a person being interested in keyless entry locks.

“This is evident by the variety of product offerings on the market representing a broader spectrum of applications. Users focus on several factors including the simplicity of key card use and PIN codes, through to remote connectivity and integration, with smart home systems existing amongst all groups. Other factors appear to drive adoption at a higher level. One being those consumers with home security systems, looking for the benefits of electronic access control and monitoring, and often favouring the technology more than standalone applications,” Mr Sindel said.

The range of keyless entry options can be confusing, Mr Sindel admits, especially because it relates to integration with other devices in a smart home ecosystem. 

“The key to addressing this confusion is through marketing and training, for both users and retailers, to help clear up key points of confusion. Making sure that consumers understand how each product selection works, for their needs, can help relieve this confusion,” he said.

“While traditional mechanical locks do still make up a majority of the market, especially in residential applications, keyless entry is growing. With some of the initial barriers to entry coming down, the expectation is this trend will continue. Further growth in features for the locksets, along with bringing pricing closer to their mechanical equivalents, should improve adoption over time,” Mr Sindel said.

Keyless entry has seen a great deal of innovation over the last few years, not only in regard to new entrants joining the market, but also as more established brands up their investment in the technology. 

“The common thread for all keyless entry products is to focus on improving the user experience for consumers by limiting confusion and offering increased integration. This could be through compatibility with popular smart home controllers and voice assistants to simplifying lock access management via a purpose-built application – creating a product that is more approachable for every day consumers is key. It is for this reason that we have a lot of new and exciting products in the pipeline for release later this year and into 2020,” he said.

When touching on competition in the market, Mr Sindel said whilst the current market is competitive, the majority of sales activity is still concentrated among major lock manufacturers for the most part. 

“This is due to brand recognition especially. When it comes to securing one’s home, using a reputable brand is still a major driver when it comes to products in this sector.”

In terms of growth in the keyless entry market, the single, largest barrier in the market is price when compared to traditional mechanical locksets, he said.

“Many users are starting to adopt more smart home technology and see the potential of including a keyless lock in the system. Continued expansion of new features, along with improving options that meet a variety of installation applications, will help drive further growth and create additional value for consumers.”

Another notable market trend, from a product standard point of view, is that the middle ground of reasonably performing, moderately priced products no longer represent the highest volume share, according to Mr Sindel.

“Instead the market is increasingly polarising between highly affordable products, with very little consideration of conformance to product standards, and market leading brands with high performing products specifically designed to exceed Australian Standard requirements.”

“Given our Australian Made products are designed and made to exceed Australian standards, the same expectation extends to our keyless offerings. Ultimately it is the ability to be responsive to local market conditions that allows us to continue to successfully satisfy our customers’ needs,” Mr Sindel said.

Unique keyless security from Delf

Delf General Manager, Peter Crossley, also believes that the Kwikset Kevo Touch-to-Open™ lock boasts a particularly unique technology, as it does not use a keypad and only takes one touch to lock and unlock.

“So the ‘smudges’ issue that occurs with other keyless technology products is simply not a concern,” he said.

“In saying this, as with all technology advancements, there are early adopters of all ages who are embracing keyless entry and the associated benefits. It will take time for this to become more mainstream, but as millennials begin to become the main house buyers, this should gain momentum. This is particularly when it comes to their second home purchases, when they have more of a disposable income to incorporate things, such as keyless technology, which may not already be installed on a house,” he said.

Delf General Manager, Peter Crossley.

“That said, many of our most enthusiastic current keyless entry technology customers are already second and third home buyers, which is proof that this type of technology has broad appeal across all age brackets,” Mr Crossley said.

The current keyless entry technology is the perfect starting point for this new segment of innovation, and is represented by Delf’s new partnership with Kwikset. 

The innovative Metro front door solution manufactured in the highest-grade 316 stainless steel, is the latest addition to Delf’s contemporary range.

“Rather than confusing the consumer, there is no doubt that this is a developing segment where new ideas and enhancements that complement the new technology lifestyles of people of all ages, is on the up and up. Most suppliers have a digital lock of some kind, however, Kwikset offers a world-leading edge with its Kwikset Kevo Touch-to-Open™ technology that appeals to what consumers really want. Being simple to use is proving that technology of this kind does not have to be confusing,” he said.

Although keyless entry lock technology has become less and less confusing, there will always be a demand for quality traditional products that have style, according to Mr Crossley. 

“What is clear is that the uptake of new lines that complement current market demand, such as Delf’s Matt Black finish, are consistently well received. As in any market, innovation is an important element of longevity and although this is not yet at full pace, there is an increasing demand for digital lock technology which meets the needs of the modern Australian lifestyle and home and business owner,” he said.

Despite this, not all electronic security products are equal, and the varying quality of products is something consumers need to be very aware of, he said.

“Especially when it comes to electronics, there is huge risk in using a ‘no name’ brand of electronic lock on a front door. We believe this is why there is so much interest in the Kevo. Being the number one US brand, consumers can trust it. Kevo’s highly advanced technology and high level of security places it at the forefront of domestic electronic security,” he said.

“Our decades of experience gives us an in-depth local knowledge of the Australian market. Our relationships with our customers are also extremely important to Delf. We are small enough to listen and respond, which is backed by an expert design team, while also boasting an excellent supplier and market-leading distribution network. Furthermore, our partnership with Kwikset furthers the spectrum of products we can offer from under one roof, including world-leading keyless technology products that are already widely used overseas,” Mr Crossley said.

Adding to these achievements, Delf has remained very innovative over the last few years, with the latest addition to Delf’s contemporary range being the innovative Metro front door solution in the highest grade 316 stainless steel, backed by Delf’s seven-year quality guarantee.

“This product comes in a range of finishes including the new Matt Black. It is also available in a single and back-to-back version, providing flexible options for builders. Along with other recent additions to the range, the Metro has been very well received by the industry. When it comes to further launches in 2020, watch this space,” he said.

Technology hungry at any age

It seems that digital locks do appeal to anyone looking for more functionality out of their locks, according to Mayo Hardware Product Manager, Sean Devlin-Look, regardless of their age or technological sophistication.  

It is for this reason that Master Lock has designed these products to be user friendly, without unnecessary features or technology that may confuse the consumer.  

“Features can be as easy as ‘lock-unlock’, or as complicated as scheduled access with audit trail capabilities. We believe traditional locks will stick around for a long time due to their lower price point, but we see this digital security market growing rapidly for the foreseeable future, as it offers more features that consumers are beginning to value,” Mr Devlin-Look said.

For now, Master Lock plans to continuously look for ways to help consumers be more secure. Sometimes this happens with a significant jump in technology, such as with Bluetooth locks, but other times it could be small changes, as we have done with our magnifying combination lock, Mr Devlin-Look said.  

“I do not see that changing anytime soon. As we sort out what is most important to people, from a security standpoint and from a technology perspective, Master Lock will continue to innovate as we have for nearly 100 years. The pace of change is only increasing, so will need to work hard to stay ahead and remain the leaders in these markets,” he said.

Although Master Lock strives to continuously remain innovative and ahead of the market, there are several market issues prevalent in the technology and security market that the company is challenged by.

“The first prominent issue is price. These locks are still quite expensive compared to the traditional brass padlock. We are focusing on bringing that price down while adding the features that customers desire, to a point where they see value in the product.”

“The second challenge is the pace of change.  Most consumers are hesitant to invest in a technology ecosystem if they are not sure how long it will be around. If they are spending a sizeable amount of money, they want to get a long-term value out of it. Add to that the pace of change for the technology itself – from 3G to 4G to 5G cellular, or the improving Bluetooth standards. Master Lock spends a significant amount of time and resources ensuring that our products keep pace with the technological standards and continue to provide value for the consumers who invested in them,” he said.

When looking at current trends in the market, Mr Devlin-Look said there is an increasing demand for safety products as employers and employees focus on the value of a safe workplace and on getting employees back to their families safely at the end of the work day.  

“Security is always a moving target as we try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. As these two trends collide with people’s desire to do more and more with their phones, including talk, text, pay, navigate, etc., it only makes sense that we would incorporate more of that technology into our products.  Obviously, we like selling more safety products, but it is also wonderful to see so many more employers, in every country around the world, investing in protecting their employees,” Mr Devlin-Look concluded.