Sunday, May 10, 2015

It seems most locks aren't as secure as I thought

I've recently had to look into buying a couple of decent padlocks to secure something, and did a fair amount of research to figure out which would be the best.  To my surprise, it seems padlocks aren't all they're cracked up to be.  Follow each link for some interesting information.

1.  Crack Any Master Combination Lock in 8 Tries or Less Using This Calculator.

(He's not joking.  I have a couple of Master brand combination padlocks, and tried his technique.  It worked every time.)

2.  How to Open a Padlock with a Coke Can.
If you’re like millions of Americans, you put a lot of trust in simple padlocks to secure your valuables.

Today we’re going to continue to break down the veil of security by showing you how easy it is to shim open a padlock with a coke can.

As far as lock security in general is concerned, try these two:

3.  Lockpicking and the Internet.
Physical locks aren't very good. They keep the honest out, but any burglar worth his salt can pick the common door lock pretty quickly.

It used to be that most people didn't know this. Sure, we all watched television criminals and private detectives pick locks with an ease only found on television and thought it realistic, but somehow we still held onto the belief that our own locks kept us safe from intruders.

The Internet changed that.

We believe there are multiple failures in security engineering by some of the world's most respected lock manufacturers in conjunction with the deployment of the technology that involve electro-mechanical locks. Potential security vulnerabilities in these locks should cause every security officer and risk assessment team to re-evaluate individual facilities to determine their risk in the event of compromise and their inability to meet certain statutory requirements, such as Sarbanes Oxley or HIPAA.

In response to demonstrations and our disclosures about the bypass of Assa Cliq locks at Defcon 17, the product development manager of Assa in the U.S. told Wired Magazine that "From what I know of the CLIQ technology it can't be done ... And until I've seen it done, it can't be done."

We believe this statement typifies precisely the problem at Assa Abloy companies: a failure of imagination. It prompted our research and subsequent discovery of multiple vulnerabilities in Cliq, Logic, and NexGen locks. It is this attitude that will continue to allow us to break locks that are represented as the ultimate in security by these companies, and which often provide a false sense of security to the locksmiths and customers that rely upon these products.

All very thought-provoking stuff - and something to think about when you next buy or install any kind of lock.  I'm certainly doing a lot more research right now before I invest in another padlock.



Divemedic said...

As a firefighter, I can tell you that we practice on accessing all sorts of entryways. There is no such thing as a secure entry.
Get a lock that can't be picked? We break a window.
If that doesn't work, we use a sledgehammer.
That isn't working? Use a 12 inch saw.
What if that doesn't work? Then we use a cutting torch.
We can use demolition tools on the wall itself.

There is no such thing as a building that is totally secure. There are only degrees of resistance to entry. The best defense is to make your home less attractive than your neighbor's. A person who is determined to enter your home will get in, it is just a matter of equipment, skill, and time.

Old NFO said...

+1 on Divemedic!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

+1 on Divemedic. As an old car repo man and car lot manager, I can get into any car, any make. Often, nearly as fast as someone with a key.

The benefit of better security systems is the cost the intruder time and exposure. Makes them want to look for an easier target with a quick entry.

Will said...

I've tried the aluminum can technique on quality padlocks. Didn't work, as there was insufficient clearance around the shafts for it to fit. I suspect that actual shim steel material may work, as that can be obtained in very thin dimensions.

A friend just had something of a wakeup call regarding home security.

Someone climbed the fence, and kicked in the side door of the garage, and then did the same to the interior connecting door. House got ransacked, but there was nothing of any real value in there, as he no longer lives there himself. It is used for long term family visits, more or less. (Well, there was a shoebox full of .22 ammo and mags that got taken.)

What the thief walked past in the garage was his large gun safe. It is still bolted down on the delivery pallet! Over ten years ago, I cut the cardboard box that covered it, and reinforced it, so he could swing it open to access the door. It's not very obvious, since you can't stand back and get a good perspective on it. He's been in a new house for ten years.
We left the safe door unlocked after moving the contents, plus his ammo stocks, to the newer home. He's finally planning to move it, but it will require a liftgate truck and pallet jack to do it right.

Will said...

Regarding padlocks, the best security (besides using the biggest lock you can) is to arrange the lock so that there is as little direct access to the whole setup as is possible.

Some years ago, my landlord had a storage room, at a 4plex, that kept getting broken into. The gangs would cut the padlock, or the wimpy garage door latch being used. This was after giving up on the doorknob lock that they kept kicking open.

I got one of those large sliding bolt latches, that you can put a padlock at one end to keep the bolt from moving. I reinforced the door inside with plywood, and also the door frame, so it can't be kicked in anymore. Then I bolted on a U bracket that covered the padlock area, that allowed the circular padlock to pivot just enough to allow the key to be inserted. The keyhole faces the door, to make it difficult to pick, or to insert any sort of object into the key slot. (They glued the keyway on one of the original padlocks he had on the door.)
The U bracket keeps any sort of bolt cutter from getting to the lock, or even the latch body, as there is not a lot of metal between the lock hole and the end.

This setup requires power tools to defeat, and the local gangs don't bother. No one has broken in since the installation.

Glenn B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn B said...

I have regular locks on the house doors and five dogs. Locks mean nothing since there are windows that are easily broken into, the dogs make a lot of the difference for us as to burglary and intrusion prevention.

Ryan said...

At work we use 5200 series keyed locks that are supposedly (a locksmith told me it is true)harder to pick than common commercial locks for most things.

For some stuff we use Sargent and Greenleaf 8077's I suspect they are really hard to pick (heck they are hard to open with the combo) but you can still cut them with a $50 pair of bolt cutters from home depot.

There are other, better locks available but as Divemedic noted the weakest link might then be the hasst the lock goes on, or the door itself, or the wall/ roof/ floor.

Physical security is about building concentric layers that primarily act as deterrents.

Unfortunately a guy with a 3 ft pair of bolt cutters, a cutting torch and a saw with a concrete blade can get into just about anything. The only ways to stop this are an armed guard or an alarm that actually brings people with guns. That being said banks, which often have both get robbed all the time.

Looking at a more wholistic approach to home defense we are trying to make the risk of our place/ stuff/ whatever unacceptably high. You want them to rob a house two blocks over, not yours. Like the old saying that you don't have to outrun the bear, just the slowest one of your friends.

Like any sort of score there are positives and negatives. Obviously your positives are the BG's negatives and visa versa. Positivees (for the BG) are high value things they could easily get value from. Drugs, jewelry, cash, guns, etc. Also sloppy habits like leaving the garage door open, forgetting to lock the door, the cheese hide a key rock right by the front door, etc all.

Negatives for the BG would be things that make your place (or whatever) a harder/ slower/ more dangerous target. We have to look at what crooks are scared of to get this side of the equation. They are concerned about getting killed, by normal citizens, by dogs or by cops. Aside from being armed at home and (I think this would work well for you specifically)varying your schedule to make it hard to target the best advice I can give is to get a big dog (say over 75lbs but 90+ is better) and put up a bunch of beware of dog signs. Nobody wants to fight a Mastiff or a German Sheppard or a Great Dane. After that they are concerned about getting arrested. Aside from being armed at home, and This means they do not like being seen and want to get into/ out of a place as quickly as possible.

That is where locks and such come into play. Unless there is something really good inside a safe is not worth breaking into.

What I am getting at is that a big dog and a few motion sensor lights might get you more than an expensive lock.

That being said please send me an email @ with a shipping address. I can probably help you out.

Snoggeramus said...

And then there are "bump keys" which are forensically undetectable.

Brad said...

As the saying goes, "locks keep honest people honest". That said, there are decent mechanical locks out there. Locks like this are pretty standard in western Europe. In the USA, most houses still use simplistic locks with all the pins in a single row, nice and easy to pick.

If you put in a decent lock, then you also need to have security glass in your windows. You also need solid core doors with locking systems that secure not only the side, but also the top and bottom. All of this is obtainable; it just costs a bit more.

If you have all of that (decent locks, secured doors, security glass), then you are pretty secure against a casual break-in.

HeroHog said...

I learned to pick key locks through simple trial and error and by being "mechanically inclined" around the age of 10. Most are so easy to pick that I have done it with a paper clip and pocket screwdriver MANY times! At school, I would crack those cheap "barrel" combination locks of the same color, swap them between the bikes they were on and hang around to watch the fun.