One of the enjoyable aspects of living a house can be that sweet garage door opener that gets you in and out. But can it be a vulnerability for intruders to hack into our homes?
Can garage door openers be hacked? Yes, garage door openers can be hacked. Older garage door openers use a “fixed code” which makes it incredibly easy. More sophisticated ones that use rolling codes make it harder to hack, but it is still possible. Smart garage door openers can be hacked too through the WiFi network if it has weak security attributes.
Ultimately, anything can be hacked if someone is smart enough and persistent enough. There are however ways to make sure that you at least are making it difficult for potential hackers.
If you have a fixed code garage door opener, do yourself a favor and throw it in the trash.
What is a Fixed Code Garage Door Opener?
Remote controls for your garage door opener can use a “Fixed Code” by using RF (Radio Frequency) to send that code to your garage receiver. It’s the same with radio stations sending tunes via frequencies.
This means that when you press a button to open your garage door, it sends a code to your garage receiver to open it. The problem is the code is always the same and never changes. That is what makes it “Fixed”.
Garage door openers that use a fixed code are not secure.
Generally, older garage doors will use “Fixed Codes”, so you if have a newer model than you may be in the clear. But it’s best to double check.
What is the Frequency of Garage Door Openers?
Not to get too nerdy, but it’s important to go over the basics of the frequencies that garage door openers use.
The frequency range that garage door openers use is between 300 – 400 MHz.
This means when you hit the button on your garage remote, it sends that fixed code through that frequency range. The problem is no one needs a license to use those frequency bands.
What is a Code Grabber?
A Code Grabber is a device that records the code that is transmitted through radio frequencies. An intruder can leave a code grabber near your garage door to record it. What it does i record your code when you press your garage clicker and saves it.
Then they come at night or at a later time and pick up the device. They simply press the button on the code grabber and it re-sends that code that it stored earlier and Boom, they’re in your garage.
The bigger issue is that this does not only apply to garage door openers. It also applies to car key alarms that people use to unlock their cars! This means millions of garages and cars are at risk and many may not even know it!
Thankfully, newer garage and cars have upgraded to newer secure systems. But that doesn’t protect the older devices in today’s society.
Again, older garage systems that use a fixed code method are incredibly easy to hack and very insecure.
How to Check if Your Garage Remote Uses a Fixed Code?
A quick way to check if your garage remote uses a fixed code is to just look at the clicker itself. If it says something like “Security +” or “Security 2.0”, you are good to go. That means it does not use a Fixed Code.
Remotes that say “Security +” or “Security 2.0” use a “Rolling Code” to transmit to your garage receiver and not the weaker fixed codes. We’ll explain Rolling Codes later on.
If your garage remote doesn’t say security + or security 2.0 on it, you’ll have to refer to your manufacturers manual or documentation. Look up your model of garage door opener and do a little bit of research.
If you still can’t figure out what method your garage remote uses, trying calling or emailing your manufacturer weather it be Liftmaster or Chamberlain. They’ll be able to tell you immediately.
As a rule of thumb, if your garage door opener/remote is 5 years or older/Pre 2015, it’s best to double check.
It’s Easy to Hack a Fixed Code Garage Door Opener
It is child’s play for someone to hack your garage door opener if it uses a fixed code. Samy Kamar, a privacy and security researcher/computer hacker, can hack any fixed code garage door opener in under 10 seconds using a kids toy.
See his YouTube video here where he explains it more in detail.
There are even other YouTube videos explaining the process of how others can set up and hack other fixed coded garage door openers. Yikes.
What is a Rolling Code Garage Door Opener?
Remote controls using a Rolling Code will always send a different code to your garage receiver to open it. This makes it more secure and harder to hack.
Rolling Codes are also referred to as Hopping Code.
This isn’t to say that rolling codes aren’t hackable either, it’s just a lot harder. Best to make sure you’re rolling with the times or else you could be an easy target. Bad joke, okay I’ll stop.
If you need to upgrade, Liftmaster has some good garage remote controllers that use rolling codes.
How Rolling Codes can be Defeated
So we just said that rolling codes are more difficult to hack right? Well, Samy Kamar found a simple way to get around it. He created something called the “Rolljam” which is a device meant to thwart rolling codes.
The Rolljam blocks the first code that you send over when you press your button and jams it. Then you unsuspectingly press the button for
Now that 2nd time works and your garage door opens. But what the Rolljam did is save that first code and stored it.
Now, the culprit can
Here’s a quick breakdown step by step:
- Rolljam is planted near a garage door
- Person clicks the garage remote to open the door
- The 1st code is jammed and
doordoes not open
- The Rolljam stores the 1st code
- Person clicks the garage remote for the 2nd time
- The 2nd code works and the garage door opens
The culprit can now use the Rolljam stored with the 1st code to open your garage door whenever they want. This is a scary thought because how many people lock their door to their garage?
The bigger problem is how many older cars are out there that are unlocked using a rolling code too? Kamkar has tested this on Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other
If rolling codes can easily be hacked too, then how the heck are we supposed to stay protected from hackers? How do we keep our garage doors and cars secure?
Expiring Codes is the Key
The solution to this is making the codes expires after a short amount of time. If the “Rolljam” stores that code for later use but it expires after 5 minutes, then it’s useless.
Newer car systems and garage doors have upgraded to a more sophisticated system but the olders one are still an issue.
Much like how many online accounts are accessed, another form of security is 2-factor authentificaton. Have you ever logged into a Google account from a different device? What happens?
It says Oh, you’re logging in from an unknown device. We’re going to text you a code that expires, and if you don’t use that code in the next 5 or 10 minutes, it’s going to be useless.
This is the next security feature that has been recently rolled out all across the world and on different platforms. Many companies use this as a method to counter hackers.
Can Smart Garage Door Openers be Hacked?
Home Automation and smart devices have changed the way normal everyday things can evolve. Now you can have a smart garage door opener that opens when you are close to home. It can even tell you a history of when it’s been opened, and you can make sure to close it when you miles away.
But can smart garage door openers be hacked too? Yes, smart garage door openers can be hacked through the WiFi network that they are connected to. If a hacker gains access to your WiFi network, it can access any devices connected to it, including your smart garage door opener.
Let’s state it again, anything can be hacked. Even though that’s true, we can certainly make it much more difficult. There are ways to secure your WiFi network and ultimately provide more security to your smart devices, like a smart garage door opener.
How Your WiFi Can Be Hacked
So you’re probably wondering, well how in the world do people even hack my WiFi network?
One way to hack a WiFi Network is by using a “Brute Force” attack.
A Brute Force attack is when they send every variation of a password to try to gain access to something.
In this instance, that something is your WiFi network. So you think, well wouldn’t that take forever? Not really.
Hackers setup tons Bots so that multiple bots and computers are simultaneously sending tons and tons of different passwords until they figure out the one password that gets them into your home WiFi network.
They also make sure that the computers with the bots on them are well-fitted for a task like this. They will make sure that is has good equipment to keep up with the thousands and thousands of login attempts with different passwords to get in.
What a Hacked Smart Garage can Lead to
So let’s pretend your smart garage got hacked. Now what?
What if I locked my door that separates my garage and my home. My car is gone and I went to work, they’re not getting anything inside my home, only what’s inside my garage right? Wrong.
If your smart garage is hacked, it opens up the door for any device connected to your WiFi to be exposed.
What many devices do that are connected on the same WiFi Network is they can trust each other. They assume, oh, we’re both on the same network, so we must both be authorized devices on this network right? Let’s share some information together without any further security measures.
What Could Happen if My WiFi is Hacked?
If your WiFi is compromised, then the hacker has access to all the devices connected to your WiFi. It means it can access things like your laptop, your phone, etc. It can even monitor the data sent over your WiFi network like bank logins, credit card numbers, social media logins, social security numbers sent over, anything.
This could lead to credit card theft, identity theft, and more. Once they have all that data, scammers can apply for credit cards under your name and run up those charges pretty easily.
You can start to imagine why securing your WiFi network can be so important.
How to Secure Your Smart Garage Door Opener
There are a lot of ways to protect your smart garage door opener by securing your WiFi network and other security measures you can take. It ranges from using stronger passwords to changing default information that your WiFi network comes with.
Here are a handful of tips that I highly recommend you take to secure yourself.
- Enable Fingerprint to Unlock Your Phone – The most secure way to protect your phone is enabling fingerprint access if available. Most smartphones offer this
now,and even face recognition too. It’s best to use these methods to access your smartphone because someone can easily navigate to your Smart Garage app and unlock it there.
- Change Your WiFi Name – This is really easy once you figure out the steps. Your default WiFi name gives away useful information a hacker would enjoy. It tells them what internet provider your using and lets them know that you don’t really care to secure your WiFi network or the devices connected to it, including that new smart garage door opener you just connected to it.
- Put your Smart devices on another WiFi Network – If you put all your apples in the same basket, then you are putting yourself at risk if that basket gets robbed. Putting devices on different networks is smart because you’re spreading your risk around. If one network gets hacked, then only those devices on that specific network are exposed. Put your smart devices on one separate network (like a Guest WiFi network), and connect your other devices (like your PS4 or smartphone) to your main network.
- Use 2-Factor Authentication – Making sure you enable 2-Factor authentication wherever it’s available is one of the best security decisions you can make. It makes it that much harder for people to access your precious accounts. For example, if someone gets access to your
gmailemail account, how much data is in your emails? All of your contacts are exposed, and every piece of information ever sent is at risk. Google uses 2-Factor Authentication, make sure to enable it and use it.
As you can see, there are a lot of measures you can take to secure your stuff! So get to to it
Hopefully, I haven’t freaked anyone out by the different ways that strangers can access our garage doors, WiFi network, and our other devices. Make sure you that secure your garage doors and all your other devices. One bad mistake can lead to a bigger headache.
Ultimately, protecting your garage door openers all starts with the type of current garage system you are currently using. It’s best to make sure you have the latest and greatest garage opener available. Those older generation garage openers are the biggest security risk.
The best way to make sure your smart garage door opener stays protected is by protecting your WiFi network and your smartphone. Those are the 2 most important things to secure and can lead to a variety of problems.
Thanks again for reading and I hope this helped you understand how garage doors can be hacked and how to protect yourself.
These are related questions that may come up around this topic. Hopefully if still have questions on this topic, they were answered below. If you still have any other questions or comments, drop a comment below!
What other attacks can hackers do? DDOS – This stands for Distributed Denial-of-Service. It’s a malicious attempt to stop or disrupt a targeted service, server, or network – by overloading it with a ton of traffic. This is another common method of attack by hackers. Example: They can send 100,000 requests to your website to crash it.
Why do people want to hack my stuff? People want unauthorized access to your devices essentially for greed among other things. It all leads to data. Data on your credit cards, social security, personal data, etc. This all means cash to them.
Can my garage door open by itself? No, your garage door opener cannot open by itself. But, it can be opened by other sources like a keypad, manually, smartphone, a remote clicker, or a code grabber/rolljam device.