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Speaking of lock picking (TM 10/6/09 and 3/7/08, for example), where does the “easily re-keyed” Kwikset SmartKey™ fit in the security spectrum? It does have BumpGuard™ for protection against lock bumping, and the re-keying is done on the inside handle (by inserting a functioning key, turning it ¼ turn to the “learn” position, inserting and firmly pushing the SmartKey tool, removing the tool, taking out the current key without rotating, inserting the new key — available in a kit [What’s This?] –, and turning it ¼ turn back to the starting position), but is it more or less secure because of this re-keying feature?

Kwikset [Manufacturer's Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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29 Responses to Hot or Not? Kwikset SmartKey

  1. Brian says:

    i can’t speak to the security but the it is surely easier to re-key than a standard lock set.

  2. J Marler says:

    The tool to decode a Kwikset Smartkey costs about $5.00 to build, if you are sufficiently talented. Shane Lawson did a presentation on hacking the Kwikset SmartKey, and he makes it look easy.

    It’s a fairly sophisticated hack, but easy enough that I wouldn’t use it to protect anything that would be worth the effort. As far as protecting your house, it’s what I use. I’m more worried about bump keys and bricks through windows than a sophisticated lock hacker decoding the lock. Your average house thief tries the front-door first, and if it’s locked, will simply break a window.

    The thing I love about this lock is being able to “make” a key for someone when I go out of town and need someone to check on my cat. Each one of my friends/family has their own unique key, that they keep. When I go out of town, whoever is watching my house, I just change the front door to their key. When I get back, I change it back. It’s very nice!

  3. Aleksejs says:

    As J Marler said. And here is blog post with video that shows how:
    http://blackbag.nl/?p=408

  4. dijital101 says:

    Really the best lockpick for a doorknob is a hammer. One good swing and your in. If you have something important/valuable enough that somebody needs an unnoticeable entry causing them to use lockpicks you should probably invest in something a little more secure.

  5. Aleksejs says:

    dijital101, they do provide other types of lock – not only in a doorknob.
    http://www.kwikset.com/smartkeyvs/images/vslocks.png

  6. Rick says:

    Awwww crap. I have one of these.

  7. Tim B. says:

    Not only the down-sides everyone else is mentioning…. My sister had one of these, pre-installed, on her town home. Her doorknob “forgot” her key somehow. Twice. This completely baffled me based on the design, but I know for a fact it happened somehow… and I believe she even ended up geting Kwikset to pay for the locksmith call. These things scare me.

  8. Bill says:

    I looked the SmartKey system a few months ago and the re-keying takes place on the exterior side…as indicated in the picture, and not the interior side. Still, it seems fairly secure, but I’d like to see a couple of independent studies first.

  9. jeffrey immer says:

    let’s face it a door knob and deadbolt keeps an honest man honest, your best protection is a good insurance policy, or this for the paranoid http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/10/12/the-backup-bedmounte.html

  10. Jake says:

    Any time complexity goes up, security goes down. So the answer would be “Less.”

    But. The real purpose of locks isn’t to be impenetrable. It’s to avoid being low-hanging fruit.

    If I’m especially determined to get what you’ve got, there’s really nothing consumer-grade that can stop me.

    An armored vault with armed security is what it takes to deter the truly devoted, and sometimes that doesn’t even work.

    But this is probably OK for your house, unless you’ve got a high profile for some reason.

  11. Aleksejs says:

    2 Jake, I agree with insurance approach, however for insurance to work your lock has to be tamper evident – if it is not then there might be prooblems explaining/proving to insurance company that your doors were not opened with your key.

  12. Rubber Duck says:

    The best deterrent is the sign on my front lawn.

    PREMISES PROTECTED BE MR’S SMITH WESON AND BROWNING.

  13. Fzzt says:

    Only trouble there Rubber Duck is that you’re advertising weapons to steal.
    Good lighting and not creating areas around the outside of the house where people can work unseen by a passing car or neighbor are your best deterrents.

  14. _Jon says:

    I have installed these and they are awesome.
    They are just as secure as any other door lock, but the re-key feature is a winner.
    I don’t have to root around and try to find a pair of ‘keyed alike’ locksets. I just grab two and go.

    When the tenants move out, I re-key house to another key (usually from another lock set I have installed) and I’m am done in 5 minutes. No locksmith.

    Kind of related, Kwikset sells a push-button deadbolt which I highly recommend.

  15. Shane Lawson says:

    Hi all, I’m the person who made the decoder. While I appreciate the idea of a brick, solid boot, or other battering device to gain entry to a house or other facility, I still feel that a lock should be designed well and effective. The smartkey is effective against bumping, but not against decoding OR picking. Many people haven’t picked these, they do take time to master and generally decoding the lock is easier. The old series of this lock can also be forced open easily by taking a key cut to a 3 depth and forcing the cylinder to turn. There are tools for this that look kind of like an icepick.

    When we publish vulnerabilities in these mechanisms it is to inform the public of potential problems with a device. Not everyone wants to pay a lot of money for a lock, but we should consider that you get what you pay for. There are also other reasons for requiring less than obvious entry into a locked area which do not involve theft. In this situation, the decoder leaves no evidence and afterward a working normal key is produced. Unlike lockpicking which leaves telling forensic evidence, using a decoder can cause issues. Especially for insurance or when trying to prove something in court.

    Just like computer security, there will always be a game of cat and mouse when it comes to protecting assets. My suggestion is to have a security conscious house, and not just stop at the lock on the front door.

  16. Philip says:

    I have been doing quit a bit of research since this bump key situation ! I have repined my lock with ilco bump stop pins also use serrated pins !Ilco said they tested the pins high speed camera and the shear line was never compromised ! You get what you pay for ? lets look at primus it uses the same side bar code through out the U.S. I called them and they admitted this so why even use a side bar its defeated it has been bumped by a first timer ! medeco open in 30 seconds Marc Weber Tobias this book is readily available and its the latest read !! I still can’t get it at the Library !! So I ordered Locks safes and Security By Mr Tobias had no Idea at first what it Covered Great book read it All re read it ! there is a decoder for just about every lock ! lets take the Abloy pg 755 decoding can occur with in two minutes with practice ! there is also a decoder on the internet for the Abloy a video ! go to Mr. Tobias site you will find a plastic credit card and paperclip used to attack the Medeco also an 11 year old Bumping the Medeco ! I am not going to cover all the locks in the book that can be Decoded and Impressioned it would take a month or more! Ilco and Kwikset are at least trying ! I looked at several locks the evva 3ks great lock but you have to get the whole item made in Austria or find out what other dead bolt it may fit ! You are correct layered security I use a strobe and Ultrasonics at 15000cps makes your ears ring and you leave to name a few and a Steinel motion detector not the crap from home depot !The Kwikset is like the Briggs and Stratton Side bar its a good lock any lock can be decoded !! Pg 764-765 by John Falle is very much like the kwikset decoder !

  17. Grady says:

    The basic pin tumbler design has been around 150 years. A lot of other designs have been developed, but this is a good compromise between security and cost. Keep in mind that the keys can be copied easily and inexpensively. Most high-security keys can’t be duplicated at the local Ace Hardware.

    The second half of the physical security issue is the strength of the lock and how it’s installed on the door (or whatever). Put a $200 lock on a flimsy door? Intruders look for the weak spots, oversights and use the method that seems easiest. Keep in mind, it’s not their property, so they don’t care what they break.

  18. jeff says:

    One SmartKey lock suddenly stopped working. Another one that gets more use is fine (for now). Seeing lots of comments on the Internets about this happening. Would never have purchased if I knew. Grrr…

  19. jeff says:

    And as a follow-up to that last comment… Just talked with customer service at Kwikset. The SmartKey locks have been “re-engineered to make it less likely to have a pin drop.” They are sending me six new cylinders. Kwikset, ya get one more chance. (And it sounds like Kwikset is somehow affiliated with Price-Pfister, known for THEIR crappy products.)

  20. jeff says:

    FOLLOW UP:

    Got six new lock cylinders after calling Kwikset customer service. They were just loose in a bubble envelope, with no instructions. The deadbolt cylinders are easy to switch, entry knobs a little more difficult. I made a video of how to remove the cylinder from an entry knob: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFgdx5SDdC8.

  21. qixote says:

    FYI: One of my 3 Smart Key deadbolts failed (dropped pin? forgot key”?). Kwikset will replace only the failed unit, not the others that still work, so far.

  22. Kevin says:

    Just bought a set of SmartKeys for my rental house at Lowes and then returned them. I bought the polished brass Cameron style. Interestingly when you re-key the lock, the old key doesn’t work (as it’s sopposed to), but when you rotate the new key so the door knob turns, ALL keys work. Not sure if there’s a defective batch out there, but I had the guys at Lowes take a new one off the shelf and they repeated what I saw. Even my housekey for my primary residence opens the lock. The Cameron deadbolt lock appears to be fine though and they took a different model of door locks off the shelf that had no problem.

  23. Paul Erickson says:

    Just installed 7 Smart Key double key deadbolts and 7 handles. I am not a locksmith! First one took me 3 hours for double key, 2nd one one hour and from then on it took about 30 minutes to change one handle and one double key deadbolt. I had to reset a few sets a few times to get the keys to work smoothly. This is because spare keys might not have been perfect. I liked the system but Lowe’s won’t rekey my fancy front door double key deadbolt that is not that old because I don’t have a receipt for it. They want me to buy an entire new deadbolt and handle set for $109! Home Depot will.

  24. SED says:

    These locks have some very cool features. They are all but impossible to pick. You can’t use a bump key to defeat it. But they have at least 2 major flaws. They lose their programming and the key you have been using for a long time quits working. The other problem is that with an old key/a key blank a file a wrench or pliers or impression tool you can bypass the lock. It does destroy the locking function but you can open this door now.

  25. kenneth conner says:

    I have picked these locks fairly quickly. Yes I own the lock. Problem is anyone with some lock picking skill can own it too.

  26. Dee says:

    OK… I know this is an old post but maybe someone knowledgable would care to comment on this… Is a Kwikset deadbolt without “smart key” a better choice? Are they just as effective against bumping and even better against picking than one with the SmartKey? (e.g. a 785 without SmartKey, as opposed to a 785 SMT)

  27. Mick says:

    Hi Dee,

    I’m not sure if you’re still watching this post, and you have probably gotten your answer elsewhere by now. However, in the event that you’re still wondering, and for the benefit of anyone who might be wondering the same thing after having read this post, here is the answer:

    A non-smart-keyed Kwikset is, like virtually every other exterior door lock out there, your basic pin tumbler lock. Kwiksets are also very easy to pick open, but as others have observed, the majority of the time, if someone wants your stuff, they’re not likely to have the skill, or even the inclination to bother with picking your locks – a brick or a crowbar is much faster, although noisier.

    I was going to type up a description of the pin tumbler lock mechanism, but decided a picture is worth a thousand words. So check out this animated gif showing how a pin tumbler lock works:

    http://toool.us/deviant/01-operation/1.03-binding_pin_%28front_view%29.gif

    If that link is dead, just click here for a Google image search that will find you similar results:

    https://www.google.com/images?btnG=Search&hl=en&q=pin%20tumbler%20lock%20animated&tbm=isch&tbs=ift:gif

    The image I linked doesn’t show things like spool, mushroom, serrated, interlocking, other other security pins which make picking (or bumping) more difficult, but these are out there, and most of the security pins I mentioned can be installed in any pin tumbler lock to make it more secure.

    The quick answer to your question… regular kwikset locks (or most any pin tumbler lock) is physically stronger than the smart key locks, but vulnerable to bumping. Here is an animation showing how bumping works:

    http://www.asimmonslocksmith.com/Pics/ARSL_BumpKeyAnimation.gif

    As you can see, it’s the same principle as a Newton’s Cradle toy, or when you play billiards.

    With all security systems, whether it be purely mechanical locks, or electronics, it’s never been a question of *if* the system can be defeated, only “how long?”. The good news is, unless someone is specifically targeting you, or someone/thing *in* your home, all you have to do is to make your place less appealing than the house or business down the road. Don’t have areas near your home that are constantly plunged into darkness at night, especially near a potential point of entrance (doors, windows, etc.). You can install outdoor lighting that uses long-lasting bright LED bulbs that are solar powered and operate either on timers or with light level sensors. I’m not talking about those walkway accent lights that you stake in the ground, but full-blown floodlights. Non-LED bulbs can of course be used in the same system, as LED bulbs of the intensity required are still more costly up front. If you have (or want to have) plants growing beneath your windows, either have ones that don’t grow above knee height, or plant rose bushes with lots of tough, snarly branches with lots of thorns – don’t give a potential burglar convenient and comfortable places to hide near your home. Get a dog. Look into your options for hardening the door *frame* itself against attack. *Do not* rely on those inside sliding chain latches – they can be unlatched by several different ways from outside the door, or circumvented with one swift kick or solid shove. I don’t even bother with them, personally. There are simple devices designed to brace your door against kicking/battering attacks. Have longer bolts installed on your deadbolt locks, as well as longer and tougher screws for all your mounting hardware. If your external doors open out (towards you when you are entering) be aware that your hinges are exposed. Speak with a locksmith (or even someone knowledgeable at a good hardware store about installing jamb pins. Don’t “advertise” if you have expensive stuff in your home. An example would be leaving the box for a brand new 50″ flat panel TV out by the curb to be hauled away where every one can see it. Cut it up into manageable pieces and bag it or throw it into the bin if you have sort-free recycling.

    Hopefully this answered your question and was helpful. The main point to take away is that you really want to think about security in layers.

  28. Eric Paulzon says:

    Dear Paul Erickson,

    Lowes does not “want” you to buy a new deadbolt and handle set. It is *you* who “wants” Lowes to accept the risk of having to replace your lockset if they re-key it and there is a problem with it afterwards. Lowes will be able to replace it for you through the vendor if you have a receipt that shows the lockset is within its warranty period. Lowes only charges $5 (per cylinder) for re-keying locks so it is hardly a big money-maker for them; they only do it for the convenience of their customers who purchase locksets from them. You’d be lucky to find a professional locksmith who would do even a single re-key for less than US$110.00.

    I used to work at what I now will only refer to as the “orange box” place. They may be willing to rekey your lock for you without a receipt. If it does not work 3 months or 3 days from now, good luck getting it replaced without that receipt You’ll probably end up wishing you’d saved yourself a lot of trouble by just buying the $109 lockset from the beginning. Either that or you just left it keyed to the old key.

    If Lowes won’t do it, there is a good reason. If the other place will, then you have to wonder…

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