How the digital revolution has made the alarm key fob a security hazard


In the course of technological history, countless items have been heralded as the latest and greatest innovation, only to be deemed obsolete mere years later. As the digital revolution has settled in, the frequency of obsolescence has accelerated, with most innovations seemingly becoming passé almost immediately after their introduction.

The home security market is no different. In recent years biometrics, mobile access control, and home automation have completely changed the way we look at how we protect and interact with our homes.


When technology goes obsolete

It’s been said that a key fob is like an ATM card with the PIN printed on the front. Sure, it's convenient to never forget your PIN, but the risk is in no way proportional to the reward. If you lose your keys with the fob attached, any criminal has absolute access to your home and valuables. With the push of a button, every door, window and safe that's connected to your security system becomes accessible. The hundreds or thousands of dollars you've invested in your protection is completely compromised by a $10 piece of plastic.

BrickHouse Security, a company that provides devices and systems to consumers as well as police agencies on the city, state, and federal levels, has taken a stand. The alarm system key fob is not for sale on the BrickHouse web site at any price. Further, any security provider that does offer key fobs as system add-ons or free giveaways doesn't offer truly secure systems

“How can anyone call themselves a security company and promote the use of a key fob?” says BrickHouse Security CEO Todd Morris. “Either they don't understand the risk or they don't care. Neither is a good answer for a security company."

As smartphones become more secure, with biometric integration and more advanced passcode systems, the case for the key fob becomes even harder to make. The BrickHouse Security home alarm and automation system, for example, offers the same function as a key fob, all through the use of passcode-protected exclusive apps. So, if a criminal were attempting to break into a home, it would take significantly more effort than stealing a set of keys. The criminal would need to get access to the homeowner's smartphone and not only know the lock screen passcode, but also how to access the app; no simple feat for the common burglar.

“I am surprised it took this long for anyone in the security industry to point out this glaring security issue," Morris adds.

We're hoping the fob will go the way of all of the other obsolete technologies. Once security companies decide to wise up and quit offering such an insecure analog device in favor of more advanced digital options, everyone looking to protect their homes will be able to rest easier.

Published September 22nd, 2021