Home Security > Package Security

A number of companies – Wal-Mart and Amazon, specifically – are talking about or actually fielding hardware and software that employs “smart” locks to give delivery personnel access to your house to leave packages therein.  I suppose the concern is keeping high-value packages out of the public eye, dealing with living in a neighborhood that has a high rate of petty crime, or protecting them from the elements.

I understand the appeal and convenience, but I will remind you of the flowchart I posted a while ago regarding lock selection – the very first gate is whether or not the locks are “smart”.  Now, security experts accurately describe “smart” locks as a compromise of security and convenience, so that is a personal cost-benefit analysis you are going to have to do for yourself.  Personally, I stand by my generic distrust of “smart” locks for the time being.

I do have to call out the Amazon Key system for at least having considered the notion of home security.  The core of the Key is, of course, the “smart” lock, but you cannot participate in the program unless you also buy one of Amazon’s new Cloud Cams, and keep it pointed at your Key-equipped door from a certain distance.  That way, if something untowards happens, there will, at least, be a record.

Obviously recording devices will not stop bad things from happening, but they could be useful for insurance claim purposes and criminal prosecution.  On the other hand, the Cloud Cam’s storage is, naturally, managed by Amazon, so you are trusting them to not… “lose” inconvenient recordings if one of their employees breaks the rules.

Still, considering the spate of “hey, just let delivery people into your house or refrigerator!” proposals floating around out there, Amazon deserves recognition for having put more than a modicum of thought into the idea.

Unfortunately that small bit of credit is offset by their “smart” lock choices, such as the Kwikset SmartCode 914 deadbolt.  As with all Kwikset locks, this one uses their SmartKey feature, which, if you will recall, is massively, deeply flawed (as a summary, not only can SmartKey-equipped locks be easily bypassed with a thin screwdriver, the bypass is permanent and invisible from the exterior of the mechanism).  In fairness, they also offer Yale deadbolt options, which does not suffer from the same flaw, but given the already-unsecure nature of “smart” locks it would have been nice if they had not stacked weaknesses.

MajesticCatalogLike I talked about before, security is always a balancing act, and if the convenience of having packages delivered inside your house outweighs the admittedly limited reduction in physical security to your house, then that is certainly your choice to make.  Personally, if I were that concerned about packages wandering off, I would consider installing a milk and package receiver, or building something similar on my porch.  And, of course, if you live in a part of the country where exterior mudrooms are in fashion, you could always put a “smart” lock on the exterior door and something stronger on the interior.

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