Fixed-Code Garage Door Openers Vulnerable To Hacking – From Kids’ Toys

Having a garage door that opens at the touch of a remote button is a major comfort for typical homeowners. But that easy-open garage door can become a weak point in terms of security. One odd issue you might not have thought of is your door's opener code. If you have an older type of code known as a fixed code, you could be vulnerable to hacking.

Repurposed Kids' Toys and Your Garage

In June 2015, "Wired" reported that a security researcher managed to modify an old kids' toy and make it into a generic garage door opener. He was able to open garage doors that used fixed codes for the remotes. Fixed codes are just what they sound like -- codes that remain the same. Every time you use your door opener with a fixed code, it will send out the same code, and the door will accept the same code. If someone can hack into that with a kids' toy, you've got a major security weakness on your hands.

"Wired" reports that many garage door companies use rolling codes now, where the codes change every time you use the opener. But just because your door is new doesn't mean you're safe. Some companies may still be using the fixed codes. Or, if you bought a home that's new to you but not recently built, the current door might have a fixed code.

Talk to a garage door installation company as soon as you can to find out if you have fixed or rolling codes. Sometimes you can open the remote and look for a row of switches called DIP switches, which indicate you have a fixed code, but not all garage door openers work the same way. If you have a fixed code, "Wired" advises that you'll have to upgrade the receiver to one that uses a rolling code. Also have the company inspect the door and ensure that the hardware is still sturdy and working well.

Don't Forget Additional Security

The Family Handyman website suggests ensuring the manual release for the door is out of reach of the edges as well. Crooks can force part of the door to bend and access many types of release levers with a wire. Also be sure you carry the remote with you rather than leaving it in the car.

If the garage door is rather old, consider just getting a new one. Better materials and newer connections will help enhance the security you add to the door. Plus, the overall cost of the new door will likely be less than the cumulative costs of replacing codes and shoring up an older door. Contact a garage door company like Shank Door for more information.