Can Your Garage Door Be Hacked?
The idea that their garage door can be hacked is disturbing to many homeowners. They trust the garage door to keep not only their property safe, but their family as well. Is it possible to use a simple device to gain entry behind a remote-controlled garage door? What can be done to stop criminals from hacking a garage door?
Any garage door that has an automatic opener works on a particular frequency that uses a code in order to trigger the mechanism and raise or lower the door. There are different types with different vulnerabilities. Older or less expensive models frequently use a static code, which is the same every time you open your garage door. These can be hacked a lot more easily than you might think. More sophisticated models use a more secure dynamic code that changes every time you press the button to activate the door.
Infamous hacker Samy Kamkar revealed in an 11-minute YouTube video how he took an old child’s messaging toy, added an antenna, and tweaked the programming to create a device that can scan through nearly 5,000 possible garage door codes in about eight seconds. Even before he perfected this device, criminals were using similar setups to extract the codes out of thin air whenever someone opened their garage door. All they had to do was wait for the person to leave in the morning, activate the hacking device, grab the code, and then come back later to clear out the family garage of all valuables.
For homeowners, the ease at which garage doors can be hacked is frightening. Technologically-inclined thieves seem to have a free pass when it comes to their property and homes. Luckily, there are some ways to combat these garage hacking attacks.
- Purchase and install a garage door opener system with a rolling code. Because a different code is used every time you open the door, it will be much more difficult for hackers and criminals to figure out which one to use to gain entry.
- Choose a system that allows you to input a personal PIN to open the door from the outside. This adds an extra layer of protection if you only give the private number to your family members. Some more expensive modern systems also allow access from only registered devices such as smartphones.
- Unplug the garage door opener whenever you go way for the day or overnight. Vacation time is a common time for thieves to strike. Thieves that know about garage door hacking will be foiled if their system doesn’t work because you unplugged it.
- Practice safe home security in general to prevent thieves from accessing your house through the garage. Keep the internal door locked at all times, secure all garage windows, and do not keep expensive items in plain sight so thieves are not tempted to break in.