Software Update Freezes Functions of Airbnb Smart Locks and Digital Locks

Our homes are our sanctuaries. We keep our possessions safe inside them and use furniture and decor to express ourselves within them. The recent advancements in technology have even allowed homeowners to connect their many in-home devices to each other to create one large, coherent, digital system. Unfortunately, hackers are taking advantage of this.

With the rising popularity of interconnected devices in domiciles, hackers have begun to target them more often and steal information in as little as four days. Skilled hackers can get into cameras, toys, televisions, smart watches, and internet routers, among other things. The worst part about this kind of intrusion is that it’s nearly undetectable until the danger is at its peak. Here’s more about how hacking works and how you can prevent it from happening in your home.

Sophisticated cyber attacks are becoming more common and more complicated as time goes by. Consumer products, rather than businesses, are most often targeted, which is making buyers more skeptical about purchasing high-tech items. Electronic locks, smoke detectors, pacemakers, and other safety products can be tampered with, threatening the lives of those who use them. Instead of discouraging consumers from buying these products, companies should take the proper steps to keeping hackers out of them.

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A New York prison inmate was allowed to be a prison locksmith for a whole year

The guards in an Auburn jail reportedly assigned the task of daily lock repairs to a convicted murderer within its walls for an entire year. The criminal, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering his parents in 1996, revealed that he’d taken over the job of the jail’s retired locksmith in 2014.

This comes as a shock to many, considering that prisoners aren’t supposed to have any knowledge of the way the locks function for obvious reasons. In a 2015 disciplinary hearing, the inmate tasked with fixing the locks described his experiences. A jail employee who testified at the hearing worked in the jail’s lockshop and confirmed the inmate’s claim.

The prison would have the inmate repair several locks per day for a period of three days. For the next three days, the inmate went about his business as usual. When those three off-days were up, he would be put back to work. This went on for approximately one year, at which point the inmate was found guilty of planning his escape from the jail.

New lock parts had to be constructed on prison property due to the mere age of the locks being repaired. Another inmate claimed to have seen his fellow prisoner fixing the locks around the jail, explaining that the makeshift locksmith boasted about the ability to create a skeleton key and break out of the facility.

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A locksmith's guide on how to protect your garage from intruders

No one would ever leave their house unprotected, but what about their garage? It’s a property asset that many homeowners don’t consider as heavily. Although your house may have more important things inside, your garage is a safe haven for cars, tools, storage, and a number of small items. Keep your garage safe from intruders with these easy security tips.

If you have a remote control garage door, don’t leave the remote in your car where it can be easily spotted and stolen. Attach it to a keychain and take it inside with you. If your remote is too big to put on a keychain, put it in a hidden compartment or purchase a smaller remote that’s compatible with the make of your garage door opener.

Give your garage door lock more security with a metal reinforcer or choose an ANSI 1 rating deadbolt to strengthen your door jamb and hinges. Make sure you put a metal sleeve onto the lock area and use long screws to firmly attach a strike plate to the wall before installing the deadbolt. You can find these materials at most department or hardware stores.

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Software Update Freezes Functions of Airbnb Smart Locks and Digital Locks

Smart locks can be useful in many situations. If you’re protecting your belongings out in the open where they can easily be stolen, it could be the right choice for you. But unlike traditional locks, smart locks can experience system malfunctions. Hundreds of Lockstate smart lock users were recently hit with a fumble, and lock owners who also use Airbnb suffered a massive blow.

The company’s CEO issued a letter to all customers impacted by the problem explaining what exactly had happened. A software update was reportedly downloaded to every purchased lock, but this update was unable to reconnect to the Lockstate web service. The software update was incomplete from then on, and nearly one-tenth of all locks were frozen. Although issues like these don’t happen often, they’re very harmful when they do happen.

Traditional locks can easily be fixed by a residential or commercial locksmith and replaced with a new lock, but smart locks aren’t that simple. This goes beyond simple lock repair. Lockstate customers who returned the back segment of their lock received an improved replacement lock within five to seven days, while customers who failed to send in that back segment didn’t receive a replacement until fourteen to eighteen days later. In total, around 500 lock owners ended up with unfixable locks, and associated company Threatpost gave those customers one free year of portal service as a sort of damages payment.

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How your home security system can cut you insurance costs

Home security systems are an essential part of keeping your home and the people in it as safe as possible. With optimum protection against fires, thieves, floods, gas leaks and more, you can be confident that your home security company has your best interests in mind. While those benefits are certainly appealing, few homeowners consider the fact that these systems can reduce the price of home insurance. How does this work? There are a few things home security systems offer that cut down home insurance costs.

Installing a security system in and around your home is the best way to keep it safe from danger of all kinds, as we discussed above. Because your house is less likely to suffer damage and require the help of emergency services when equipped with an alarm sounding system, insurance companies are willing to charge you less for insurance. The reduction may be a significant amount of money for you, but for the insurance company, it’s a small price to pay to retain a low-risk client. You won’t have to worry about filing insurance claims, either, which can be tedious and time-consuming.

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How to choose an alarm or security system that best suits your business

Every business needs a security system, no matter what they want to protect. From confidential information to high-value equipment, keep your company’s possessions safe with a top-notch security system that monitors your commercial property and alerts authorities to any disturbances it detects. Selecting and installing the right security system for your business can be tricky, which is why we at Action Locksmiths are here to help.

Just as each business has its own functions, materials, and layout, every company will benefit from a different kind of security system. While a clothing store has stocked cash registers and textiles to protect, an accountant mainly deals with digital data and must keep it safe in a different way. Setting up several security cameras inside and outside retail stores helps catch any attempted thefts. Business buildings are typically safe with a small collection of cameras near the main entrance.

Before you choose a security company or locksmith company to devise an alarm system plan for you, request their licenses, proof of insurance, references, and business hours. It’s important to select a company that is industry-approved, legally protected, positively received, and available to work within the timeframe you give them. Find out how quickly they respond to emergency situations, especially those that occur during after-hours.

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Tips to find the most reputable locksmith in Toronto

Unless you’re a DIY buff, you need a professional to complete a home maintenance task with the skill and materials necessary for a high-quality, long-lasting result. The good news is, home maintenance workers are numerous and often specialized, which means you won’t have trouble merely finding one. But you may struggle to find someone who’s professional, reliable, and worth the price they offer. If it’s a locksmith you need, follow our tips to ensure you choose the one that’s right for you.

Before you hire the first locksmith that pops up in your search results, investigate a little further. Look through the individual or company’s website so you know which services they offer and how positive their reviews are. If the reviews are negative or there’s no website to be found, move on to the next one - they’re either low-quality or illegitimate.

Even if you’re in an emergency situation, verify the reliability of the emergency locksmith you’re considering with the Better Business Bureau to avoid falling victim to a scam. Better yet, do your research before the emergency occurs and you’ll have a go-to locksmith to help you when you’re in need.

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Your local residential locksmith gives tips on how to keep your home safe from intruders

Thieves usually attack the most vulnerable houses they can find, and luckily, there are many things you can do to make sure your home isn’t an easy target. There are even ways in which you can deal with criminals that attempt to enter your well-secured home. Read on to find out what you can do to prevent and handle home invasions.

Plant short, spiky shrubs around your house and trim them consistently so intruders don’t attempt to hide in your greenery. If you opted for walls around your home instead of bushes, install an intercom at the gate and check on it frequently to ensure it’s in working order. For a higher level of security, install a video camera to record all activity that occurs just outside your property.

Any metal guards you put in front of your house’s windows must be tightly fastened, as persistent thieves will try to loosen any physical barriers they come across. If you choose to set up window guards, apply them to all of your windows, no matter how small or high up they are.

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Will keys become obsolete due to new digital security systems?

With all of the home security advancements we’ve seen over the past decade, keys could very soon become a thing of the past. There are many keyless locks and protective devices on the market today, but there’s one that’s been around for three years and is just now getting numerous upgrades: the Amazon Echo.

Amazon’s Smart Home was released in 2014 and is sold with a remote control, both of which pair with a special smartphone app. For those who bought the Smart Home, it was a hassle to pull out the remote, grab their phone, and search the app for the function they wanted to complete. After receiving the feedback, Amazon looked to fix the problem.

Voice recognition and device syncing for the Amazon Echo quickly became the company’s focus. Pulling up an app is no longer necessary with many of Amazon’s devices; it only takes a simple, clear command spoken aloud to complete any pre-programmed function you want. The company continues to release more products equipped with voice recognition each week, most of which are made for home security, like the smart locks Dwelo and Kevo that disengage at the detection of a close proximity voice command.

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Trump Hotel in Toronto, 1 of 14 Trump properties hacked

A recent widespread hacking has affected fourteen Trump hotel locations, putting the credit card information of their guests at risk of being stolen. This isn’t an isolated event, either - this has happened thrice over the past few years at different Trump hospitality properties.

The newest security system hacking incident took place over a period of several months, between August 2016 and March 2017. These security slips revealed the names, home addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers of many of the guests staying at the hotels between that period of time. Although the systems within the hotels themselves were unaffected, Sabre Hospitality Solutions was targeted and digitally broken into to access this information.

The only affected reservations in Toronto were those that fell between November 18 and November 21 of 2016. Alongside the Toronto Trump hotel, locations in Vancouver, Washington, and New York were also attacked. The notice issued by the chain insisted that the safekeeping of guest information from outsiders is very important to them.

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How to choose the best security system for your home

Every home is different, which is why there are so many new security systems on the market. You can purchase systems with motion sensors, sound detectors, surveillance cameras, emergency alarms, and more, most of which can easily be set up without the help of a professional.

This is all well and good, but it can make picking a security system difficult. To choose the system best suited to your home, consider your situation and what kind of protection it would benefit from. A home that’s often empty, particularly if the owners are far away, needs better security than a busy home.

Start with simple things like lawn signs, motion-activated lights, and intruder alarms to ward off possible thieves. Though these should never be used on their own, they can be somewhat helpful. Preventative systems are certainly useful, but it’s a better idea to purchase security devices that are linked to emergency services so the authorities are sent to your home if an alarm goes off. These kinds of devices also give homeowners insurance breaks. If you’re looking for a more advanced type of security system for your home or business, you may want to explore access control systems, keyless access systems, and digital locks.

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A locksmith tells us how to keep every member of your family safe within your home!

Your family members do different things at different ages by nature, and sometimes, they can get themselves into trouble. Help your children, pets, and parents stay safe while they’re in your home with our complete list of household safety tips from a locksmith who’s part of Toronto’s Action Locksmiths team!

Newborns grow quickly, and as they develop, they begin to explore with their hands and mouths. Put baby gates up to bar off staircases and dangerous rooms to keep your baby from injuring themselves. Buy plastic plugs for outlets and put any small, bite-sized items up high where your baby can’t pick them up and choke on them. Anything that can be easily broken should also be put out of reach of your baby.

Toddlers have a greater range of motion, so keeping them safe while wandering around the house is a bit trickier. Choking hazards and fragile items should be stored high enough for only you to reach or locked away in a secure cabinet. Drawers, cupboards, windows, and doors should all have child locks on them. For homeowners with a pool, build a fence around it that measures at least four feet high so your child doesn’t risk falling in. If you want more in-house security, purchase a home security system with motion detectors, security cameras, and emergency alarms so you can keep an eye on your little ones.

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home security system in the summer

Summer is the time of the year when most of us take a relaxing vacation to somewhere we’ve never been before, and while summer vacations are enjoyable and problem-free for most, some fall victim to home burglary. Even if you live in a secluded area, it’s very important to ensure that your home is safe and secure all year round. Follow our home safety tips for a protected house while you’re away.

Surprisingly, making minor alterations to your home security system can discourage potential lawbreakers from trying to break in. Most criminals will target homes that are empty, or appear to be so. If you’re away for an extended period of time, consider installing timed lights that turn on and off at specific times predetermined by you. For extra security and a clean mailbox, cancel home deliveries or have a neighbour collect what you receive. Both tactics will give criminals the impression that the house is occupied and the homeowners are active, which isn’t an ideal break-and-enter situation.

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Are higher car crime rates due to keyless locks?

Every year, around 2,000 cars are stolen from the rural England region of Lancashire, and that number is climbing. Certain roads suffer more car thefts than others, and while residents have begun to worry, the area’s representatives are perplexed by the data.

Many police officers claim that the majority of Lancashire’s crime revolves more around anti-social behaviour and vandalism than car theft. Though they have admitted to seeing stolen cars left in the area, they didn’t perceive the problem to be worse than it was in other rural areas of the country. Unfortunately, statistics don’t agree - the car theft rate was 2,100 in 2016, and 2017 has already seen 1,659 cars stolen despite it only being July.

Thieves are reportedly upping their knowledge of technology to make breaking into vehicles easier, especially if those vehicles use keyless locks. Victims who do get their vehicles back are lucky, yet they continue to watch the same crime occur around them at an unwarranted frequency.

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Several European companies suffer a blow to their security system due to cyber attack

A recent malware outbreak in Europe interfered with the digital data of several hospitals, government buildings, and large companies, much like that of the harmful virus discovered this past May.

The virus denied individuals access to important files, showing a near impossible encryption key and requesting a large amount of currency to solve it. It first hit Ukraine and its neighbouring European nations, eventually making its way to the US to infiltrate the systems of giant corporations like Mondelez and Oreo. By the end of the day, the virus had stopped spreading.

Ukraine was hit the hardest by this recent attack, suffering blows to the computer security systems of its government buildings, ATMs, gas stations, grocery stores, energy companies, and even two large international businesses.

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What to do if you've locked your keys in your car - Tips from our locksmith

Many people have locked their keys in their car without realizing it, and although it’s an embarrassing situation to be in, it’s not all that uncommon. Car owners tend to lock their keys in their car when they’re overtired, in a rush, focusing on something else, or think they brought their keys with them when, in fact, they didn’t.

Most of the time, locking your keys inside your car is just an inconvenience, but sometimes, it can be hazardous. Finding yourself in that situation when it’s extremely early or late in the day can pose a problem, as not all locksmiths are available at odd hours. It can also be a nuisance when you’re completely isolated, as you risk having little to no phone service and may not be in close proximity to locksmith services that can help.

If you ever find yourself locked out of your car, don’t worry - our staff here at Action Locksmiths can help! For decades, we’ve been serving Toronto and its neighbouring cities, including Scarborough, Mississauga, Pickering, and Milton. Unlike other locksmith companies, we offer our 24/7 emergency locksmith services - all day, every day. Never think twice about calling us no matter what the time or situation happens to be.

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How to Tell if You’ve been a Victim of Locksmith Fraud

We’ve transitioned from looking through the collection of business numbers in our phonebooks to looking through the endless information of companies online with the implementation of the internet three decades ago. Although browsing the web is easier than browsing a giant book, the drastic increase in options also makes it harder to choose quality service. For that reason, Lockheal, a certified locksmith database, has been developed.

When you’re creating your Lockheal account, you can select the customer option and define your desired locksmith location, whether you need a commercial locksmith, a residential locksmith, or an emergency locksmith service, and any other important elements, all for free. Completed requests will come up on each locksmith’s dashboard, and they are then able to bid on any job they’d like.

Any customer who receives a bid from a locksmith is allowed to outright approve or deny the price, but also bargain if they think it could be lower. When an agreement is made, the locksmith sends a job commencement notification to the customer and is followed with GPS tracking. Both the customer and locksmith must press Done when the job is complete.

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How to Tell if You’ve been a Victim of Locksmith Fraud

Most people will only need the help of a locksmith a few times in their lives, and usually, these times are emergencies. But even if you’re frustrated and in need of immediate help, don’t choose the first locksmith that comes up in your search engine results - you could end up less rich and more frustrated than before you were locked out of your house.

Be sceptical of phone numbers that appear to be local. Although they are often connected to a legitimate small business in town, your call could actually be made to a large call center. Similarly, the given address of a locksmith company may be a location designated specifically for mailed letters or simply invalid. Be sure to double-check that these are valid.

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Why

You’d think construction workers would be the number one door closer installers, but it turns out they’re locksmiths. It may be their expertise, or simply the fact that clients think to call a locksmith when dealing with door problems of any kind. We’re not complaining - locksmiths profit quite a bit from door closer installation.

A top-jamb closer, one of the most common types, is great at countering the motion of a swung-open door, carefully guiding the door to a closed position, and closing the door tight enough for the latch to engage. The latch engagement is particularly important if the building catches fire, as the changes in pressure can keep doors open if their latches aren’t solid enough. With a 99% success rate, there isn’t much cause for concern.

If a top-jamb closer is misused or set up improperly, however, it can start to malfunction, eventually detaching and falling down. Not only can this hurt anyone present, but it can also put the installer’s job at stake. Top-jamb closers typically only fall if they are frequently abused or were installed carelessly.

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Fake Construction Worker Tricks

A skilled fraudulent man, who presented himself as a Toronto contractor, recently tricked a locksmith company into losing more than $20k of revenue. The manager of the affected company, Essex County Locksmiths, has warned other local businesses to beware of possible attacks.

Back in March, the man called the locksmith company and inquired about an electronic deadbolt lock for a townhouse renovation project in Thornhill he was working on. Toronto’s lock supply was apparently limited, forcing him to turn elsewhere, and he figured Windsor would be a good alternative. Despite the relatively normal appearance of the situation, the company looked up more information on the organization.

Upon further investigation, the Windsor business discovered that the construction company was real, and the emails the con artist sent were from an address that contained the company’s full name. Additionally, the shipping address matched up with a residential complex in Thornhill. Nothing else about the situation seemed suspicious.

During negotiations, the so-called contractor was able to bargain down the price of each lock to $50 less than its retail value because of the sheer quantity of locks he was buying. Thinking this was fair, the company sold the locks to the man in groups of twenty. Three credit card payments of $7,797 were made by the man in mid-April.

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Your Guide to Lockpicking

Although locks are meant to keep others out, what if you need to get in? Picking keyed locks is entirely possible with the right knowledge and tools, but it takes more than just jiggling a bobby pin around in a keyhole.

The popular cylinder lock has a key rotate a cylindrical plug to either pull or push the spring-equipped bolt that controls the state of the door. A deadbolt lock, on the other hand, doesn’t have a spring, making it harder to pick.

Cylinder locks feature several coupled pins that sit in the lock’s shaft, either on the top or bottom. When the lock is engaged, the top pins sit between the plug and housing while the bottom pins sit entirely in the plug, ensuring the lock stays closed. Putting the right key inside adjusts the pins to match the point at which the housing and cylinder meet. The plug and housing are no longer connected and the door can be opened.

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The Right Lock for your Bike

Having a hard time choosing the right bike lock? You’re not the only one. With so many varieties at so many different prices, it can be difficult to find what you need. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you choose a lock that suits your needs. Take a look at the following advice given by one of our very own locksmiths here in Toronto:

The truth is, any physical lock can be picked by anyone with enough time, knowledge, and lock picking tools. Even heavy duty locks with top notch security and unbelievable durability can be disengaged, but some are better than others at keeping thieves out. It all depends on the lock’s features and relative price.

Many consumers think that the ratings printed onto the packaging of locks are decided by a parent company that examines locks across the province or country, but in reality, these ratings are created by the lock’s manufacturer. This means that each lock’s rating is based on the company’s products and can only be put up against other locks by the same business. That being said, higher ratings are better than low ones, and in most cases, a lock with a rating between six and eight is perfect to begin with.

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Smart locks will be tested at BART stations
Techcrunch.com

Anyone who has ever had their bike stolen knows the feeling of thinking they secured it before they left and coming back to an empty spot, feeling frustrated and confused. You lose both your money and your mode of transportation permanently, or temporarily if you’re lucky.

But bike thieves will soon encounter the challenge of getting past the new smart bike lock by Bikeep, an Estonian startup that aims to secure possessions with more advanced technology than ever before.

The 16th Street Mission underground station in San Francisco is now equipped with a lineup of Bikeep locks for bicycle users to try out. Europe has already tested these new locks, and with the implementation of 1,000 locks that were constantly used by frequent bikeriders, no incidences of bike theft were reported or observed.

How exactly do these locks work? According to Bikeep, the locks respond to the use of the region’s reloadable transit pass. Users simply sign up with their smartphones and use them to scan a QR code within close proximity to the station. This process allows only that individual’s pass to activate the lock.

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Yearly Growth for Electronic Lock Market to be 13.9%

In less than a decade’s time, the worldwide electronic lock market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 13.9%, reaching over $3 billion in revenue.

Currently, companies in the industry are putting their time and effort into electronic or digital locks for North America, designing models for shopping centres, public gymnasiums, and parking lots across the continent before installing them for optimum security. With this increase, North America should be valued at over $859 million by the last quarter of 2025, easily topping the list.

The industry is driven mainly by the high instance of criminal activity connected to property in recent years. Approximately 8.7 million property-related offences were reported throughout the continent, giving just cause for the implementation of heavy duty electronic locks, mobile locks, and motion sensors in the area.

More electronic locks are appearing in Latin America as well, most of which accompany the access control systems in public buildings and residential complexes. Some areas are recruiting local production companies to create new high-tech security products and make their mark in the industry.

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How to choose a credible locksmith in Toronto

In emergency lockout situations, most people have no choice but to call a locksmith or more precisely, an emergency locksmith. Oftentimes, these people have little experience choosing one. Don’t choose one at random: look for these key indicators if you’re ever in a lock-related predicament. 

Credentials are an important part of being a reputable locksmith, though not all areas require locksmiths to have a license. Politely ask the locksmith to show their identification cards, licenses, and memberships. If they hesitate or refuse to disclose that information, choose someone else who can meet that reasonable request. 

An insured and bonded locksmith provides legal protection for clients. The former covers costs associated with property damage, while the latter keeps the onus of any incorrectly done locksmithing on the worker who did it. These two qualifications will help you avoid any workmanship issues that arise. 

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