If you're lucky enough to have had your automatic garage door work flawlessly over the last decade or more, you're probably impressed at its durability -- and skeptical that the same longevity could be achieved by today's often cheaply manufactured products. Unfortunately, while solidly-built, certain older garage doors are vulnerable to a home security breach that could allow a burglar to clone your garage door code using a cheap childrens' toy. Read on to learn more about this vulnerability, as well as what you can do to protect your garage (and home) from unauthorized entry.
Which automatic garage doors can be easily hacked, compromising your home security?
Until the mid-1990s, most automatic garage door manufacturers used a fixed code to program their door openers. Unlike a rolling code door opener, which generates a new combination of numbers at random each time the door is opened, a fixed code uses the same sequence each time. Some enterprising techies recently discovered that a kids' wireless messaging toy that can be purchased for under $100 can also be used to capture the code when a fixed code garage door opener is triggered nearby.
By capturing and storing this code, hackers or would-be burglars are then able to open the garage door later, after watching you leave -- giving them free reign to the contents of your garage and making it much easier for them to break into your home without being observed by neighbors or passersby.
What should you do to prevent your garage from being the entry point to a burglary attempt?
If your fixed code garage door opener is on its last legs, replacing it with an opener that uses a rolling code is a no-brainer. However, if your door opener is in good condition and you're reluctant to replace it, there are some steps to keep burglars from being able to enter your home even if your opener does happen to be hacked.
First, you'll want to reinforce the security of the door between your garage and the rest of your home. Many homeowners neglect to keep this door locked as long as the outer garage door is closed, making it incredibly easy for burglars to gain access. Installing a deadbolt or interior security chain can make it difficult for burglars to get much farther than your garage without destroying your door and likely making enough noise in the process to catch neighbors' attention.
Next, some security dealers in your area can offer what is called a z-wave garage door opener to your existing garage door. This product has a mobile app that will provide notifications on when the door is opened and closed. So, for instance, if you are sleeping or away from the home, an alert will go to your mobile phone letting you know the garage door has been opened. If you currently have a security system, ask your security dealer about adding this feature.
You'll also want to consider installing a home security system if you don't already have one, especially if you live in a neighborhood that has experienced a recent spike in burglary rates. These systems can include motion-activated cameras that can even allow you to access your live feed from anywhere with a wireless signal; window sensors to detect broken glass or even an attempt to open the window from the outside; and an audible alarm that can catch the attention of neighbors and often scare your burglar enough to turn tail. By combining these deterrents and surveillance features, you'll ensure your home remains safe - even amid high-tech hacks.