Wednesday 15 January 2020

Experts at the Master Locksmiths Association Review Security Trends for 2020

Technology has transformed almost all aspects of our daily lives. We can pay bills and organise banking from our smartphones, adjust our home heating remotely via mobile app, and use the same phone to manage our travel.

Forecasters predict that the next big thing to be revolutionised by technology is home and car security.

Experts at the Master Locksmiths Association, the UK’s leading organisation for locksmiths, consider the technology trends facing the security industry in 2020 and what it will mean for consumers.

Dr Steffan George, Managing Director of the MLA, which represents the business interests of over 1,400 locksmiths across the UK, reviews some of these emerging trends and gives his views on what they will mean for home security.

Concerns and perceived threats to personal safety in both the home and in public places are fuelling a growing demand for security solutions for both domestic and commercial properties, and consequently the market for these products is expected to grow in 2020. Increased affordability and accessibility of new technologies is also contributing to this market growth.

The need for action is clear. Home Office statistics show that homes with no security are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures in place.

Technology is expected to play a bigger part in home security in 2020 with more residential properties equipped with solutions that can be accessed remotely via mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops. 

Dr Steffan George, Managing Director of the MLA

Fingerprint door locks and facial recognition software

This used to be the stuff of James Bond films and spy thrillers, but now this technology is becoming increasingly popular and accessible for homeowners and businesses. Biometric electronic security systems work by using a person’s unique physical characteristics including fingerprints, face or iris recognition to grant or block access to specific doors, rooms or buildings.

A fingerprint door lock works by recognising the unique fingerprints of a select group of authorised personnel or residents and using them to unlock doors and provide access to a property. The cost of this technology used to be prohibitively expensive which limited its application, but now fingerprint locks are widely available and are more accessible. One crucial issue to consider when installing new technologies is to build in a back-up for when the technology goes wrong. The MLA recommends installing a hybrid system that incorporates a traditional mechanical lock alongside a biometric one to provide the best of both worlds and to ensure that the biometric system can be bypassed, and the door still used when and if the power goes down.

Experts at the MLA also advise that the correct installation of smart locks is very important to how well they work. One common problem with the introduction of smart technologies is the installation of smart locks on existing traditional door locks. This investment does not enhance security and if not installed by a professional locksmith can actually be detrimental. All smart locks and security systems should be specified and fitted by professional locksmiths to ensure that they are fit for purpose and address the specific security requirements of an individual property.

Wireless Home Security – an integrated smart home

The trend for creating smart homes will continue into 2020 with people integrating more technology into managing their homes. Heating, entertainment systems, appliances and security can all be smart enabled and controlled via mobile devices. Smart, wireless home security systems are becoming increasingly common as prices drop and technology improves.

Installing a house or business alarm used to require expensive fixed installation costs with security systems and CCTV networks reserved for those with big budgets; now smart wireless solutions are available, providing convenient and accessible alternatives.

With fast, reliable Wi-Fi and a smartphone it is possible to create a safe, smart and secure home using a system that can be easily installed, controlled and monitored via an app from anywhere in the world. With wireless sensors connected to a motion-sensing camera people can monitor their home remotely, using just their mobile phone.

Renters and homeowners who move house frequently can also benefit from these portable wireless systems, allowing them to disconnect and reconnect at a new address without disruption to either property.

One of the major obstacles to using wireless home security, after cost, has traditionally been reliability. Interference from other devices and structural interference from walls, floors and ceilings causing signal failure has previously affected the reliability of wireless home security, but these problems are far less frequent. To combat these problems, each wireless sensor now has its own battery back-up. The MLA recommends regular testing and charging of batteries to ensure the system operates at peak performance and not to chance a DIY installation. Home security is too important and should be installed and managed by trained and licensed professionals. All MLA members are licensed, and vetted giving customers confidence that their home security is in safe hands.

Car Tracker

In the same way as the FindmyPhone app or Snapchat’s SnapMaps works to identify a person’s location via GPS, the MLA has seen an increase in the use of “Connected Car” technology that tracks, monitors and safeguards vehicles. The technology is factory fitted and often includes extra options such as being able to remotely unlock the vehicle via an app.

Safety of security technology itself

Issues with the security of the technology itself will be a major theme for 2020 with encryption becoming a huge focus. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of the actual technology they are using. Many are reluctant to introduce Smart technology into their homes to avoid compromising security. Fears that Alexa, Google Home and other smart devices are listening in and recording conversations and data are fuelling concerns as well as the risks of mobile apps being interfered with and mobile signals intercepted and used illicitly.

When people invest in technology, especially security technology, they want to know it is not having the reverse effect and compromising their safety.

Wireless signals and routers can be hacked, keyless cars for instance are an easy target with devices that pick up the signal from key fobs allowing cars to be driven off in minutes. Similar problems can affect remote unencrypted security devices or devices where the factory specified password hasn’t been updated. For instance, if a particular smart lock is compromised, the danger is enormous and could affect thousands of properties

Unlike a traditional, mechanical lock where only one property is affected if the key is copied or compromised, in the case of smart locks if a bypass/hack or vulnerability of a particular smart lock is discovered then every property with this type of lock is vulnerable.

Imagine if a housing estate was developed with all properties fitted with the same make and model of smart lock, if a hack was discovered then every house on the development would be at risk because each lock could be opened. The MLA continues to work with the British Standards Institution BSI, Police Forces across the country and with insurance companies to investigate ways of checking and certifying that security provided by smart products is at least equivalent to traditional, mechanical security devices.

The Master Locksmiths Association has over 1,400 business members operating across the UK installing and repairing locks in homes and business premises. MLA locksmiths can conduct security audits and offer advice on the best security solutions for individual properties. Find your local MLA locksmith at

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