If this video is to believed, the traditional lock and key is an obsolete security system: something called the “bump key” opens most locks in seconds. More details in this paper by Barry Wels and Rop Gonggrijp, whose abstract reads,
How to open Mul-T-Lock (pin-in-pin, interactive, 7×7), Assa (6000 Twin), DOM (ix, dimple with ball), LIPS (Octro dimple), Evva TSC, ISEO (dimple & standard), Corbin, Pfaffenhain and a variety of other expensive mechanical locks without substantial damage, usually in under 30 seconds, with little training and using only inexpensive tools.
The authors, incidentally, identify themselves as members of Toool – The Open Organization Of Lockpickers.
As this posting notes, the “key bumping” attack is not new — in fact it’s been around for decades.
But it is clever, it is very easy to make the tool from an existing key, and it seems to work best on the more expensive locks that are harder to pick.
I have a personal interest in lockpicking. When I was in college, I found a paper bag on the ground near my dingy el-cheapo room that contained a few simple spring-steel picking tools. What said bag was doing there and what possessed me to pick up a bag on the street in that part of Berkeley, I’ll never know. What I do know is that I had a few picks at a time they were not so easy to order by mail.
With a bit of practice, I found that picking tumbler locks was usually very easy. Most locks are cheap, the tolerances and keyways are not tight, and all it takes is applying a tiny bit of rotation to get a bit of friction on the pins in the tumblers with one tool, then gently pushing pin by pin ’til each clicks in place with the other. With a bit of practice, I could open most doors in a couple minutes, often less than the thirty seconds bumping promises.
I did, however, notice that expensive locks were much more difficult. Since they were better-machined, there wasn’t much free play to torque them, and there was very little friction when they were torqued. It was hard to feel the click of each pin, and the pins even seemed to be cut in less-predictable ways. I could usually do those, too, but sometimes they’d take me many minutes, and on some I simply gave up.
I never did anything but show off for friends, but if I had had malign intentions, I’d have been on bumping like a bumblebee on a clover patch. It works on the tough locks. A cheap pick works on the cheap ones. A butter knife works on the rest.
I trust the 20+% grade on our street more to deter property crime than our door locks.
Heh. Here’s what the folks at my office think of that link: “Your organization’s Internet use policy restricts access to this web page at this time. Reason: The Websense category “Illegal or Questionable” is filtered.” Hmmm, can’t have such information in the hands of lawyers.
locks are to keep honest people honest.
Last year, Wired Magazine had a good, related, article on the world lock-picking championship.