The 3D-printed key that bumps any lock
Dan Thomas posted on September 03, 2014 |
Lockpicking just became a whole lot easier thanks to 3D Printing. Engineers Jos Weyers and Christian Holler have used 3D printing technology to produce ‘bump’ keys capable of opening millions of locks, without ever having seen the original keys. Their DIY software Photobump requires only a couple of pieces of readily available information such as lock’s depth,and a picture of the lock. It uses these details to design a ‘bump’ key that can pick even the most sophisticated of security locks. “You don’t need much more to make a bump key,” security consultant Weyers announced at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York City last month, “Basically, if I can see your keyhole, there’s an app for that.” The technique of bumping has been practiced since at least the 1920’s, and involves inserting a key into a standard lock and using a hammer to then knock the lock’s pins into place. With 3D printing, the game has changed. Now even carefully designed high-security locks can be compromised.

What if an aspiring lockpicker or criminal has neither a 3D printer nor the requisite know-how? Theoretically, they can order their ‘bump’ key from 3D printing services like Shapeways or i.Materialise. 3-D printed bump keys are cheap and reliable. Both Weyers and Holler claim that they aren’t trying to teach thieves how to break and enter, but rather warn lock makers that traditional lock-security is no longer secure. The complex key profiles upon which locksmiths have long relied is, “a kind of false sense of security,” according to Holler, “If a protected profile is your only protection, you should be aware that’s no longer enough. Weyers said that lock makers should be producing more modern locks with electronic or unprintable parts, “The sky isn’t falling, but the world changes and now people can make stuff using 3D Printing. Lock manufacturers know how to make a locks bump-resistant. And they had better.” There are no plans to publicly release the Photobump software.

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