Electronic door locks are widely used in cities and rural areas around the world, and they are often used in conjunction with a magnetic strip or electronic gate to create an electronic lock.
However, the way they are designed has been controversial.
A group of researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Nottingham have analysed the technology in a new paper published in Nature Communications.
The researchers discovered that, for some of the devices they tested, they could not use a magnetic gate to achieve the same level of security as an electronic door lock.
Instead, the researchers created a “double-layer” device, with a thin layer of electrical energy stored in a cavity around the perimeter.
This allowed them to “phase-match” the energy of a magnetic signal to the energy stored within the cavity, creating a “super-thin” device.
They said the new device “pushes the envelope of the security properties of these devices”.
The researchers also found that the energy could be used to create a highly secure digital signature, which is more secure than the existing magnetic door locks.
“These findings indicate that electronic devices can still be considered as a security-sensitive medium, even if they use a double-layer magnetic gate,” said Professor Jonathan Winton, one of the paper’s authors and a professor at the University’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The paper’s co-author, Dr Jocelyn Parnell, from the UK’s University of Birmingham, added: “Electronic keys can be used in secure environments, but their physical design means that they are not as good as physical locks.
In a world where digital signatures are required for almost every transaction, this makes electronic key technology less secure than its analogue.”
A full description of the research is available here.