While smart door locks can offer great conveniences to their owners like keyless entry, remote management, entry logs and smart home integration, the fact is that they are still prone to the usual problems that can affect everything that relies on software - the occasional technical glitch.
This is what greeted the owners of this particular smart lock as it was rendered inoperable due to a simple mistake.
More than 500 owners of the LockState 6000i RemoteLocks, including 200 Airbnb hosts, were left with permanently disabled "smart locks" on their doors when an incompatible software update was accidentally issued.
According to LockState, after the software update was sent wirelessly to the Wi-Fi enabled locks, they suffered a "fatal error," rendering them inoperable. Worse still, the botched update prevented the locks from reconnecting to the company's web service, which made a remote fix impossible.
LockState told security blog Threatpost that the company sent out a firmware update meant for another model, the 7000i, to the affected 6000i models by mistake.
The 6000i can be managed and monitored remotely and can be configured to send alerts to the owner when the assigned keypad codes are used to open the lock. This functionality makes them a popular choice for Airbnb hosts for granting entry to guests on their rented properties.
A bricked smart lock may not be a big problem to an individual user since it can still be unlocked with its included physical key. However, the issue can severely affect rental property businesses who rely on the 6000i numerical keypad codes to grant access to their customers.
After realizing its mistake, LockState told Threatpost that it immediately notified customers who received the failed update and sent them their resolution options after a few hours.
Of course, a number of angry Airbnb hosts and guests vented their frustration on Twitter citing that their locks suddenly stopped working.
— Juniper (@JuniperWyoming) August 7, 2017
"We realize the impact that this issue may have on you and your business and we are deeply sorry. Every employee and resource at LockState is [sic] focused on resolving this for you as quickly as possible," wrote LockState CEO Nolan Mondrow in a prepared customer advisory.
Owners of the bricked smart locks are left with two options - return the back portion of the lock to LockState so its software can be updated manually (turnaround: 5-7 days) or have the company ship a replacement lock (turnaround: 14-18 days). Understandably, for rental property owners, these lead times may not be quick enough to prevent potential income loss.
This just highlights the unexpected problems and issues that can befall so-called "smart appliances" that constantly rely on network connections and company issued mandatory software updates. Despite all the conveniences these connected devices bring, these can fall victim to technical glitches or worse, security issues, that can leave them inoperable.