Biometric door locks are cool, plus Schneier likes 'em

BoingBoing reader David K says,

The NYTimes has an article (Link) on a new, commercially available fingerprint scanning lock you can install on your front door in about 20 minutes.

They (mostly) like it, and quote [well-known security expert] Bruce Schneier on what a great idea this is. He brings his characteristic wit, reason, and smarts: "'Honestly, who’s going to get a photo of your fingerprint to trick the scanner?' he said. 'If I had a photo of your key, I could fool your lock. I can also get a rock and throw it in your window.'"

Personally, I am constantly frustrated that in this modern age, the device I crucially rely on several times a day still uses centuries old technology that is preposterously prone to mechanical failure and human error. The prospect of never again fumbling for a key, frantically jiggling a bad copy, or finding a locksmith at 2am is positively delightful.

That said, I see two major downsides: (1) batteries run out (2) how long until some intrepid tinkerer figures out how to hack this with a garage door opener or something ridiculously simple (a la Bic pen in Kryptonite lock).

Shown above (via NYT article): "After the SmartScan lock is programmed, it can be opened from the outside, right, with the swipe of a finger."

The $199 lock is called SmartScan, and is manufactured by CA-based company Kwikset. Press release here.

Jesus, I sure hope the lock works better than the gutwrenchingly slow, bloated Flash page on which Kwikset is promoting it -- not only does it take for frikkin' ever to load, it launches in a daggoned pop-up window, and may crash your browser (depending on your OS/browser combo). Who designs these sites, drunk chimpanzees? Reluctant Link.

You can't buy SmartScans yet, but there's a mailing list at that godawful website for alerts when the product is out.

Reader comments: Won't someone please think of the fingers? BB reader DaKu did:

My 2-Pesos (sicilian-style): As a former citizen of Colombia (thankfully I am now U.S. citizen), I can firmly say that the advent of these new locks there (if they ever take off), will mean that people will have to be very guarded with their fingers, to make sure that they are not stolen to break an entry. I can see it now: Fist Guards®: To keep your hands in one piece...

Nicholas Weaver says,

In practice, these locks can be very easy to fool. Mythbusters did a episode with such locks. Getting the fingerprint was suprisingly easy and, when cleaned up, a XEROX of the fingerprint was sufficient to open the lock! You don't leave photos of your keys all over the place, but you do leave photos of your fingerprints. Heck, you could probably take a little camera and read the print directly off the sensor!

Alex Antener says,

Here is a Video from the
Chaos Computer Club in Berlin (CCCB) on how a fingerprint can be hacked.
It is spoken in german language but the way the hack is shown it can
easily be understood.