Garage doors create a number of security vulnerabilities for the average home. They are often weak points against entry, but they can also enable surreptitious entry where attackers can then wait for your family or attack your main defenses without being visible.
Remote Garage Door Opener Security
Remote control garage door openers work by sending an electronic code from the remote to the receiver in the garage door opener. Remote garage door opening systems have had many security vulnerabilities since their introduction:
- The first remotes featured no security. All remotes opened all doors of that model.
- The next generation of remotes featured security codes that could be set on each opener. There were not enough possible codes, so attackers used equipment which tried every possible code until it hit the one that worked. Attackers also used equipment which recorded the codes when the legitimate owners pressed their remotes.
Newer remote control systems use rolling codes with millions of possible codes. The code changes each time you use the device, so they can’t be recorded and played back. There are also too many codes for an attacker to quickly try them all.
If you keep the remote control for your garage door opener in your vehicle, anyone can get into your garage simply by smashing your car window when your vehicle is away from home. This is even worse if your vehicle registration and proof of insurance are in your glove compartment and list your home address. Buy a keychain remote and keep it on your person at all times when you are away from home.
Secure Your Garage Door Safety Release
Almost all garage doors feature a safety release which allows the garage door lock to be disengaged by pulling on a lever, chain, or cord. Most garage doors are loosely fit, which allows an attacker room to slide a hooked wire into the garage and pull the chain. This video demonstrates the procedure:
For security, those safety devices must be disabled. Some people recommend using a zip tie to lock the disengagement lever. This will make it more difficult for an attacker to pull the lever, but will enable you to pull the lever by pulling hard enough to break the zip tie. This isn’t very secure, obviously, because an attacker can also pull hard enough to break the zip tie.
Manual sidelocks can be installed to increase the security of your garage door when you are home, or when you are away for an extended absence. These are usually more trouble than they are worth, as it is common for people to forget to check if another family member has engaged them.
Protect the Inner Door to Your Home
Once an attacker is able to enter your garage, they will be able to attack the door between your garage and the inside of your home without being easily visible. This gives them more time and more options, and means that the door protecting your home from your garage must be as strong or stronger as your other entrance doors. For more information on that, review our articles on Door Locks and Reinforcing Wooden Doors.
Alarm System Integration
All garage doors and windows, and the door between the garage and your home, should be monitored by your home alarm system.
Protect the Valuables in Your Garage
Most homeowners store thousands of dollars worth of tools and equipment in their garages. As garages are relatively easy to break into, these items should be secured within locked enclosures.
If your garage has windows, they should be frosted and barred.
External Garage Door Locks
Many security professionals recommend external security locks to secure garage doors. The issue these create is that you must exit your vehicle and stand unprotected with your back to the world to open these locks. This defeats one of the benefits of garage doors — the ability to exit your vehicle in a comparatively protected space. However, external locks which bolt the garage door closed can be useful if you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time.
External locks which bolt the garage door to the concrete are far more secure than locks which secure the door to the frame.
Don’t Forget the Small Door
Many garages also have a small door which leads to the back yard. These doors are often extremely insecure and they are usually hidden from street view.
Get a Better Garage Door
If you are serious about security, you will want to look into replacing your garage door with a steel-reinforced model. These doors feature single or double layers of steel from 20mm to 42mm in thickness, along with the beefier hardware necessary to support the additional weight. For even better security, upgrade to a roller-shutter garage door like the Seceuroglide Excel.