Tests of intelligent locks show most are unreliable, unsafe

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Most intelligent locks available on the domestic market are not reliable or safe, according to a test conducted by three consumer associations in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.

Of all 38 intelligent locks tested, 32 could be opened with fabricated fingerprints and 24 could be opened with a duplicated integrated circuit card (IC card), test results showed.

The test results, released on Sunday, also showed six locks could not be opened under temperatures lower than -40 C, though all of the locks should have been able to function under that condition.

The locks were bought randomly by staff members of the three consumer groups from e-commerce platforms, including JD.com and Tmall, and involved 28 popular brands. The staff members posed as ordinary customers, according to Beijing Consumer Association.

Prices of the locks ranged from 790 yuan ($112) each to 3,700 yuan, it said.

The associations conducted the test to provide guidance to consumers as intelligent locks have increased in popularity in recent years, the association said.

The test showed encryption is not adequate for most of the locks. As a result, there is a high risk that the original key cards can be duplicated.

In addition, problems such as electrical circuit malfunction and inadequate electrical magnetic compatibility also exist for some locks.

The associations suggested consumers buy safer intelligent locks, such as those requiring varying passwords, and take precautionary measures to eliminate risks, including removing fingerprints from locks after opening doors so they will not be copied by thieves.

The associations also suggested manufacturers clearly mark the range of temperatures under which the products can be used so consumers in high altitude areas that experience low temperatures in winter can choose suitable locks.

Safety risks of intelligent locks have become a major concern for consumers in recent years. According to a survey test conducted at the end of last year by the State Administration for Market Regulation, which tested 40 intelligent locks of various brands, 25 percent demonstrated safety risks in fingerprint identification.

In May, the China Consumers Association conducted a safety test of over 29 intelligent locks of popular brands. The results showed half the products had safety risks regarding fingerprint identification, and nearly 86 percent were at risk of being opened by duplicated cards.

About 5 percent of all families in China - most of them in first and second-tier cities - used intelligent locks last year, compared with 3 percent the year before, according to a report released by Tmall last year.

As incomes and home safety awareness continue to rise, sales of intelligent locks are expected to increase rapidly in China, but the quality of the products vary, the report said.

Standardization authorities in China are calling on representatives of the intelligent lock industry to draft technical standards on the product to regulate the market and improve quality, it said.

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