Kwikset introduces SmartCode 916 touchscreen deadbolt that thwarts smudge attacks

Kwikset SmartCode

Kwikset has long offered deadbolts with numeric keypads that do away with the need to carry a physical key. Kwikset's SmartCode locks are available in both stand-alone versions and models with radio modules that use the ZigBee or Z-Wave connected-home protocols, so they can be integrated into larger systems.

But those locks have always relied on rubber buttons, which can turn grimy over time. Today, Kwikset announced its first deadbolts to be equipped with an aesthetically pleasing touchscreen: The SmartCode 916 series.

Touchscreen door locks aren’t new. Yale has some very attractive models, and Schlage has a somewhat less-appealing touchpad series that uses a membrane keypad. What Kwikset is hoping will set its touchscreen locks apart is a feature the company refers to as SecureScreen.

Kwikset Smartcode 916

Kwikset says it has significantly reduced the interior side of the deadbolt to render it more aesthetically appealing. 

According to Kwikset, touchscreen and touchpad door locks are vulnerable to “smudge attacks.” An intruder can discern the correct code by examining the oily residue left on the glass or membrane from fingertips repeatedly pressing the same numbers.

The numbers with the most residue will be the ones used as an access code (although the intruder will still have to guess the order in which those numbers are to be pressed).

Kwikset gets around this problem by having the user press two random numbers to display the full screen. The user then presses the numbers that make up the access code to open the lock.

The theory, apparently, is that all of the numbers will soon become smudged, making it more difficult for someone to guess the correct access code.

The SmartCode 916 Touchscreen Deadbolt can store up to 30 access codes, so homeowners can assign one to each person in the family or to guests. The locks support the ZigBee and Z-Wave home-control protocols, so they can be integrated into connected-home and home-security systems. Once you’ve done that, you can have the door lock trigger other connected devices, such as lights, security cameras, or an alarm system.

Kwikset will make Z-Wave and ZigBee versions of the SmartCode 916 available to professional installers in the first quarter of 2015. A stand-alone version of the lock will become available to consumers later this year. Kwikset did not disclose pricing for either configuraiton.

The impact on you: SecureScreen is a good idea, but don’t fret if you already own a touchscreen door lock. Just do what I do: Wipe the touchscreen with your sleeve or even the palm of your hand after you enter your code. That should render it safe from smudge attacks.

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