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posted by azrael on Tuesday September 02 2014, @01:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the opening-pandora's-box dept.

One of the unintended consequences of cheap 3-D printing is that any troublemaker can duplicate a key without setting foot in a hardware store. Now Andy Greenberg reports that clever lockpickers are taking that DIY key-making trick a step further printing a "bump key" that opens even high-security locks in seconds, without seeing the original key.

A bump key resembles a normal key but can open millions of locks with a carefully practiced rap on its head with a hammer. Using software they created called Photobump, Jos Weyers and Christian Holler say it's now possible to easily bump open a wide range of locks using keys based on photographs of the locks' keyholes. As a result, all anyone needs to open many locks previously considered "unbumpable" is a bit of software, a picture of the lock's keyhole, and the keyhole's depth. "You don’t need much more to make a bump key," says Weyers. "Basically, if I can see your keyhole, there’s an app for that."

Weyers and Holler want to warn lockmakers about the possibility of 3-D printable bump keys so they can defend against it. Although Holler will discuss the technique at the Lockcon lockpicking conference in Sneek, the Netherlands, next month, he doesn't plan to release the Photobump software publicly and is working with police in his native Germany to analyze whether printed bump keys leave any forensic evidence behind.

Ikon maker Assa Abloy argues 3-D printing bump keys to its locks is an expensive, unreliable trick that doesn’t work on some locks whose keys have hidden or moving parts but Weyers argues that instead of dismissing 3-D printing or trying to keep their key profiles secret, lockmakers should produce more bump resistant locks with electronic elements or unprintable parts.

"The sky isn't falling, but the world changes and now people can make stuff," says Weyers. "Lock manufacturers know how to make a lock bump-resistant. And they had better."

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  • (Score: 2) by nyder on Tuesday September 02 2014, @02:41AM

    by nyder (4525) on Tuesday September 02 2014, @02:41AM (#88337)

    Getting blank keys are easy. Lots of stores have key copying kisoks in them, that needs a store person to operate, but they leave them open, and you can palm keys easy. Knew some peeps who did that for car keys because they knew how to make their own master for many models.

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  • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Tuesday September 02 2014, @02:23PM

    by LoRdTAW (3755) on Tuesday September 02 2014, @02:23PM (#88502) Journal

    How about the key counter in Home Depot that is only manned when a employee is summoned by a customer. The best part is the decorative key blanks with sports teams and other colorful designs are right on the counter facing the aisle. I can walk up, grab a blank, which already has a barcode tag attached, and walk to the self checkout counter which is right next to it.

    And really this isn't scary news at all. I learned how to make a tension bar and rake in shop class from my shop teacher. Hacksaw blade is used for the rake and the tension bar made from a short piece of fish tape (or wire snake) which is heat treated spring metal. All done on a bench grinder.

    Also, if key blanks were next to impossible to obtain it would be trivial for a machinist to make one using a surface grinder and perhaps a slotting saw on a horizontal mill. Then a bit of work with a file to cut the ridges.

    • (Score: 2) by Snow on Tuesday September 02 2014, @07:26PM

      by Snow (1601) on Tuesday September 02 2014, @07:26PM (#88603) Journal

      I was at a walmart wanting a new key and couldn't find any service (Surprise, Surprise). I had enough time to root through the cupboards, find the instruction booklet, follow the instructions and make my own key. No one challanged me at all. I was there for probabaly 20 minutes. It's not exactly Ft. Knox.