Home Security: Deadbolt upgrade?

We all (hopefully) have deadbolts on our exterior doors. I’m looking to replace my exterior doors and was wondering about different deadbolt options. There are now keypad locks, Bluetooth locks, and locks that combine Bluetooth, keypad AND fingerprint.

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Have you upgraded your exterior locks? What do you recommend?

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Fortress Door (Fortress Door Company)long strike plates and very long screws are very secure materials, make for good security

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Standard key deadbolts. The bolts are the longest I could find, with heavy duty strikers, and held to the frame with 3 1/2 inch screws. They are always locked.

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As a former locksmith I have mixed feelings about all the electronic locks out there. I just dont know if I can be convinced a wireless/Bluetooth lock can not be hacked.

I also am not a fan of pushbutton locks manual or electronic. It is too easy for people to accidentally or purposely give out their codes and then not change them later.

When I was working for the University of Wisconsin Madison we had a big push for push button locks for doors that were accessed by multiple departments. Someone in management was sold on the great idea so we had to put between 30 and 50 of these electronic push button locks on campus.

After the first one failed (in less then a month) I brought it back to the shop to work on it to figure out what happened. As I was examining it I found I could take a paper clip, flatten one end and use it to open ever one of these locks by bypassing the electronics and key override. It was a design flaw which the company failed to admit (but that lock was discontinued shortly after the discovery and a new model came out without the flaw).

That being said, ANY properly installed deadbolt is better than no deadbolt at all. From my experience, if you do not use the reinforcing plate and the longer screws which will secure it to the wood behind the door frame you just wasted your money.

The other thing I have seen is people spending hundreds or dollars to get a good lock and deadbolt that has all this fancy trim work and then do nothing to protect the windows 5 feet away from the door.

Yes part of the job is to think like a criminal and figure out how they would get in when they thought there was something inside they wanted.

Sorry for the rambling, I did enjoy my time as a locksmith, politics and budget cuts (affecting wages) forced me to make the decision to go with a new career.

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As a Software Engineer - one who has to deal with hacking of security for medical devices - I’m just going to say your fears are well grounded.

The problem is that exploits exist in virtually every system, and at the time a system is deployed to the field many of them are not yet known. In medical devices, we have to plan to update the security of all devices in the field when a new exploit that effects our device is discovered.

Now granted, a door lock is a lot less complex than a ventilator, but I guarantee that nobody is coming to update the software on your door lock if an exploit is found. The people who care about using that exploit to open your door are going to know, and you’re not.

At home, we have steel doors, steel door frames, and good deadbolts (y’all may remember, I do live in a bunker :wink: ).

Where I rent a room in MI, I have a door lock similar to this:
https://www.gokeyless.com/product/schlage-fe575-keypad-lock-plymouth/
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It has a 9v battery with a physical key backup in case the battery fails. No bluetooth or wireless, so no electronic hacking. It can be set to auto-relock and has multiple updateable keycodes so I can set a code for a guest or service person, then remove that code later. reprogramming or removing codes is super easy.

I might have gone with this one, as it’s got no electronics, but it’s 3 times as expensive, and I don’t know how easy it is to reset the code or if it takes multiple codes:
https://www.gokeyless.com/product/simplex-5000-combination-door-lock/
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Totally agree. You can get security film like this through amazon for a darn reasonable price:
https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/building-window-solutions-us/solutions/security/

@Zee

I might have gone with this one, as it’s got no electronics, but it’s 3 times as expensive, and I don’t know how easy it is to reset the code or if it takes multiple codes:
https://www.gokeyless.com/product/simplex-5000-combination-door-lock/

This one you can only set one combination at a time. I am very familiar with this brand as I use to have other locksmiths bring them to me when they lost the combination and needed it reset.

It really isn’t hard if you follow the directions, the trouble starts when people try to do it from memory and have not done it in a while and they miss one step. to recover the combination it must be completely disassembled to recover and reset it at that point.

(Yes I still have a problem getting the quote thing to work for me).

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I converted my deadbolt to work with Amazon key in-home delivery service. It’s the same deadbolt on the exterior, because I live in an apartment and can’t change the key. The only thing that changed was the interior half, which is electronic.

As a current locksmith, I have two schools of thought when it comes to electronics and deadbolts.

  1. It may be possible to hack them, but extremely unlikely that a home burglar has the education to do that. My lock is connected to my WPA2 WiFi network, and I’m alerted if it’s unlocked, even if it’s manually with a key. I also have a Ring camera that would notify me of exterior movement, and Amazon cloud cam on the interior of that door. (If the power goes out, aka my wifi turns off, I have to use a key. That’s never happened though)

  2. Standard deadbolts are extremely easy pick or even bump. Most people don’t have bump proof deadbolts, and an informed burglar can unlock that deadbolt with two small taps to a bump key. This is much more likely than them taking the time to hack you’re entire home network.

Burglars are all about speed. They’re most likely going to simply kick in the door, or break a window so they can get in and out as fast as possible.

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Consumer grade electronics, for securing things are going to be a weak point/vulnerability. The reasons why have been pointed out, but the short of it is, every tiny convenience you get out of it you’re making bigger sacrifices in security, unfortunately.

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@dave1 Do you have a recommendation for a bump-resistant deadbolt? I don’t have any problem upgrading the bunker security :rofl:

Have you seen any of the work by Deviant Ollum? Penetration testing is his life.

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Not familiar… going to go search.

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Here is one of the only non key, low consumer electronic, high grade, bump proof deadbolts I know of.

Digital Door Lock M210 Mechanical Keyless Deadbolt, Antique Brass https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000O68MWI/

Remember too that you need to reinforce the strike plate and use longer screws, etc, or else these things can just be brute forced around.

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Deviant Ollum and his team lead the field in penetration testing. I am really hoping hubby and I can get to one or two of his conferences. One of my favorite examples, is when he was showing off, and took a glass of whiskey out of the bar, to demonstrate how to use it to bypass the lock of the sensor and get into a locked Bank ATM vestibule, just by blowing the whiskey past the sensor…

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Good old fashioned Kwikset manual deadbolts are on my doors.

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That’s an impressive lock. What’s to say I just kick the door off the frame and gain entry. My advice it this you have a fancy lock nice. But most door hinges have on a 1in or 2 in screw holding it. That all those out put some heavy duty 6 to 8 in screws in their place. This includes the the locks wall plates and door frame also.

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That is what I tried to say as well. For all the good an improved deadbolt does, you are still open to brute Force attack if you don’t upgrade with longer screws and a reinforced strike plate, etc. There’s a point of cost VS benefit. Researching your area to see what kind of entry is common can help you address more acutely the targeted points of entry. If you don’t have a lot of lock pickers or bumpers, then that kind of upgrade won’t be worth a heavy investment. Do they kick in the door? Then frame reinforcement and strike plate, screws. @Zee already mentioned windows too I think.

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By your 1st floor windows plant roses or other thorny plants. Also put a screw or screws in the window frame to allow the window to only open so far.

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I just read a short article the bad guys are currently doing in Florida. Criminals are knocking on doors and if the occupants don’t answer they’re putting stronger rubber bands around the door handles so they can come back at a later time and easier to gain access apparently. Wow! If criminals actually used their brains to accomplish good in their lives, no telling what they could accomplish. ( just wanted to forewarn the community in case copy-cats pop up in other localities)

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Most people don’t realize it but much more important than the lockset itself is reinforcing the door frame and using 3.5"-5" screws through the hinges and strike plates seated all the way into and preferably through doubled studs on either side.

You also need to replace your strike plates with burglar resistant strike plates.

Unfortunately most contractors do things the cheapest and quickest way possible rather than the best way possible and unless you pop off the door trim to inspect how it’s installed you’ll never know till it’s too late and someone has already kicked in your door.

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I think I’m not understanding how that would help… ?