3D-printing your way out of jail

Paul Raven @ 17-09-2009

keysWell, printing your way out of your handcuffs, anyway – BoingBoing points us to a story of a Dutch hacker type who has used a 3D printer to duplicate a working version of the master keys for the handcuffs used by the Dutch police force. [image by stevendepolo]

And you thought filesharing was a threat to the fabric of society! How long before we can print Yale lock keys from photographs taken 200 feet away? Erm, actually, that was possible late last year…

Will technology render all physical security essentially useless, and if so, how soon? How will we protect property if we have no way of securing it? Is this how the notion of property will die?


Keys cloned from long-range photographs

Paul Raven @ 30-10-2008

bunch of keysHere’s a neat but nasty little criminal hack that some smart folks at UC San Diego just released as a proof-of-concept: it’s possible for someone to clone your house keys from a photograph taken up to 200 feet away.

The keys used in the most common residential locks in the United States have a series of 5 or 6 cuts, spaced out at regular intervals. The computer scientists created a program in MatLab that can process photos of keys from nearly any angle and measure the depth of each cut. String together the depth of each cut and you have a key’s bitting code, which together with basic information on the brand and type of key you have, is what you need to make a duplicate key.

Crafty stuff, so much so that they suggest that blurring your key teeth on public photographs is probably as wise as blurring your credit card numbers – though it’s hard to imagine a criminal bothering to do this if they could just get their hands on the right sort of bump key.

But it’s a great example of the sort of minor science fiction plot point that would have sounded ridiculously futuristic just ten years ago… I guess maybe tagging yourself with an RFID chip to open your door has merits after all. [picture by Bohman]