RFID Enabled Deadbolt

rfid door

We saw Amal Graafstra, the author of RFID Toys, at Maker Faire. Even though we spent most of the time at his booth poking at the RFID tags embedded in his hands we did remember him mentioning that he would be releasing a free bonus chapter. The first chapter of the book shows how to connect an RFID reader to your home automation system for front door access control. The free bonus chapter describes how to build a standalone system for operating a single deadbolt. The Powerbolt deadbolt he chose makes this project pretty easy since it already has marked solder pads for open and close. A BASIC Stamp 2 is used to read the tags and operate the lock.

25 thoughts on “RFID Enabled Deadbolt

  1. This is a bad idea. RFIDs were never meant to be secure- there is no encryption. They can be spoofed without contact. Imagine someone being able to wave a wand over pocket and being able to copy every key on your keychain. That is basically what unencrypted RFIDs are. The reader requests a the RFIDs number and the RFID returns the number. Someone on the street could do the same with a RFID reader.

  2. Interesting hack. The system’s fairly simple. I’m assuming that a “real” system would interface with the encrypted version of the RFID he has implanted… on that note, I hope like hell he has those registered on his medical records, otherwise I’d really hate to see what torture he goes through if CAT scanned someday.

  3. @peter:
    I agree – even a magnetic stripe based reader would be more secure. Perhaps this kind of hack/mod would be best used with a two-factor auth scheme? Like the RFID card *and* a combination for the door?

    @soi sentinel:
    Nothing quite like having an implant pull through the skin or burn while inside you. Perhaps we’ll see some kind of medical status tatooing taking place in the years to come?

  4. Love the hack, but… not on my front door!
    You have now given the burglar a 3-wire puzzle: 4 screws and the burglar has access to the 3 wires and only needs to short 2 of them to unlock (and lock after doing his deed) what used to be very hard to break in. For the electrically inclined, the relay is a dead giveaway.

    At a minimum, the rfid reader and wire need to be embedded in the door. Could you have your setup on the inside of the door? I imagine the signal would be strong enough to get through the door.

  5. Definitely need to put the unit on the secure side of the door. You don’t need to know the proper wires to short, just try them in all combinations (1 to 2, 2 to 3, 1 to 3). Heck, any metal object, such as a key or a coin would work.

  6. I’m not sure that a cat scan would have any problem with these implants. A CAT scan is basically a series of X-ray’s that have been reconstructed into a 3d image.

    Perhaps you’re thinking MRI which uses magnetic fields to image.

  7. Looks like there is some confusion over this. Only the antenna is on the insecure side of the door. The tag in one of Amal’s has a single number that can be read by anything. The one in the other hand is fully capable of doing a cryptographic handshake (literally and figuratively).

  8. just a point to consider when commenting on the insecurity of the rfid tags in this application. Key locks can be picked easily…..on a lower end a $5 slide hammer will defeat most anylock and doesnt really require specialized knowledge….and Lets not forget the door and jam can be defeated with as little as a well placed boot.

    The vulnerability of the rfid is really of the smallest concern….unless youve got it attached to a solid steel door with reinforced jam, pick deterent locks, etc etc.

  9. Thanks, pick, but why is that helpful? 2/3 of the stuff we see on hack a day could have been purchased somewhere else. The whole idea of hacks is building it yourself as opposed to being a mindless consumer. Plus, hacking is fun. Win-win.

  10. Yes, I was thinking of an MRI, Mike. Although I wonder about long intensity X-rays (anyone know the power used to inspect BGA packages vs a CAT scan or other X ray system?)

    Thinkgeek deadbolt: Definitely needs another handle. I like the fact that you now have to keep a 9V in your pocket in case your door deadbolt battery dies… or the privacy mode, making it possible to lock yourself out.

  11. #16, I know it’s not helpful, I wrote it because I just wanted to show people it, I have made a few really pointless things, like a buzzer and light that can be controlled with a relay and, uh, I can’t remember the name of it, it’s like a resister that can change resistance using a dial, and I must admit, it was very fun to make. “2/3 of the stuff we see on hack a day could have been purchased somewhere else.” Yeah, like I said, I just wanted to show people it. Sorry if I bothered anyone.

  12. he should have place the RF sensor behind the 1,5 inch door! Some sensor are really powerfull and could go throw the door. That is much better and safe!

    no one would know there is a RFID sensor.

    I have that lock at home and it is been more then 1 year without using it since the battery are dead :P

    I have thought of that idea but wanted the RFID on my shoes!! SO I just walk on the matress and the door unlock!

    REally nice! I might try it with a PIC!


  13. @ #20, if you hooked up an aftermarket rf remote to a setup like this powerbolt, theres no reason it shouldnt work.

    Personally i’d be setting it up my door with iris recognition, not some lousy rfid. (I’ll pretend there isnt a $5k price difference though.)

  14. what if someone takes a stun gun to the lock? will that fuse it or cause it to unlock?
    i remember reading about one homeless person who got change & food from vending machines by zapping them with a stun gun.

  15. it would’ve been far more clever to embed the rfid receiver inside of the door so to most crooks, there is no visible difference from the standard lock. that would also eliminate the exposed wire issues.

  16. You guys that think you’re so smart by finding the big “flaw” of this must not realise that the wires that need to be shorted to lock & unlock the door are INSIDE the door, and the only wires accessable are power and data. If you know the key, you can import it into the serial wire, but if you had that, why wouldn’t you just use an rfid key in the first place. The basic stamp that outputs the open/close commands is inside, not outside, smart ones.

    BTW, you can buy an rfid reader/door control with the stamp and everything from smarthome.com for only $100.

  17. lets think about this logically. it would make it alot more secure if the rfid reader was just under the surface of the door or behind it.

    to the person who thinks that someone walking down the street could steal your tag number:

    The average person doesn’t go walking down the street with an rfid reader recording the tags. your crazy. what burgler is going to put that much work into breaking into your house? who do you have following you?

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