The promise of electronic door locks that you control from your smartphone is that they’ll make your home safer. But Consumer Reports' door lock tests revealed that many smart locks have the same dumb flaw as regular locks: The hardware that attaches them to your door frame can make them vulnerable to a break-in. But by spending $10 or less on an additional part, you can reinforce your lock and buy some peace of mind.

More on Protecting Your Home

If a smart lock is installed without this part, called a box strike, it will be easier to crack than to hack. All an intruder has to do is aim a well-placed kick at the door to gain entry. This flaw in otherwise well-designed locks is central to our door-lock tests.

For our kick-in test, we first assess how well a lock survives increasingly forceful impacts using the hardware it came with. If it doesn’t score an Excellent on that test, we install it with a box strike secured with four 2-inch screws. Of the almost two dozen locks we tested, only six could resist repeated impacts with the hardware it came with. But once we secured them with a box strike and longer screws, every model was especially resistant to kick-ins.

A strike plate with longer screws makes a door lock more secure.
A strike plate with longer screws makes a door lock more secure.

If you’re in the market for a new lock, check our door lock buying guide and ratings of deadbolt locks, ranging from $12 to $400.

Size Up Your Current Lock

To evaluate the lock you have now, look at the strike plate on the door jamb. If the bolt of the lock passes through a rectangular opening in the strike plate, your lock is more vulnerable than you think. If the screws securing it are 1 inch or shorter, it’s even easier to force open the door. A box strike gives the lock a far stronger hold on the door, and the 2-inch screws anchor it to the door frame.

Of the electronic locks in our tests, only two locks from Schlage stood out as hard to kick in—the Schlage Camelot Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm BE469NX CAM 619, $200, and the Schlage BE365 V CAM 619, $130. But these, like most other locks we tested, were still vulnerable to drilling, another common way of gaining entry. For the most security all around, your best bet is still the Medeco Maxum 11*603, $190, which was best in our tests at resisting kicking, picking, and drilling.