[Jos Weyers] tipping us off about this lock impressioning video. It shows his final round of the lock impressioning championship at this year’s SSDev conference. Even though he shaved about fifteen seconds off of his 87-second single-lock record from last year he came in third overall because the competition averages times over several rounds.
This method of opening locks uses a file to create the correct teeth after examination of tiny marks on a key blank from trying to open the lock. We’ve seen foil impressioning as well as electronic impressioning, but video of the competitions makes this our favorite method.
[Barry] shared his postulation on how electronic key impressioning works (google cache). You may remember his foil impressioning demo from earlier in the month, but now he’s addressing a piece of news we must have missed. Apparently, a handheld impressioning device is about to hit the market that can tell you the key codes for a lock in a matter of seconds. [Barry’s] guessing at how this is done from his experience with a similar device aimed at car locks. When the circuit board seen above is inserted into a lock, it completes a circuit between the lock housing and the wafer. The firmware monitors the conductors on the tip of the PCB to calculate how deeply the cut should be and at what point on the key.
This would be fun to try with a homemade PCB, any idea how to deal with wrapping traces around the edge of the board like that?
Apparently it’s been around for fifteen years but using foil impressions to pick locks is new to us. This is similar to using bump keys but it works on locks that are supposedly much more secure. This method uses a heavy gauge aluminum foil to grab and hold the pins in the correct place for the lock to be turned. The foil is folded over and slits are cut where each pin will fall. It is then inserted into a lock on a tool shaped like a key blank. Jiggle the tool for a bit and the cylinder will turn. This just reminds us that we’re much more dependent on the good will of our fellow citizens to not steal our stuff, rather than the deterrent that a lock provides.
We’ve embedded a detail and fascinating demonstration of this method after the break. The materials in the video are from a Chinese-made kit. We’re not sure where you find these types of locks, but we don’t feel any less secure since our keys could be obtained from a distance anyway.
Update: Video now embedded after the break. The link is down but you can try the Google Cache version.
Continue reading “Foil impressioning defeats security locks”
[Steffen Wernéry] has published a video of the impressioning contest at LockCon. We learned about key impressioning at this year’s HOPE conference. You start the process by inserting a key blank into the lock. By turning the lock until it stops and then moving the key up and down you create marks on the blank’s face. Take a file to those marks to remove the extra material and then repeat the process. Once the pins are set properly, they’ll stop leaving marks on the blank. It takes a lot of skill to do this right, but you end up with a perfectly functional key. [Barry Wels] managed to win the competition in 5:30 with second place coming in at 6 minutes.
The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers (TOOOL) is planning a new annual gathering for lockpickers. October 9-12th they will hold the first ever LockCon in Sneek, Netherlands. The event was spawned from the Dutch Open lockpicking championships, but they’ve decided to expand beyond just competition into a full conference. This year the conference is limited to just 100 lockpickers, technicians, manufacturers, hackers, and law enforcement members. They’ll compete in picking competitions, safe manipulation, and key impressioning.
On a related note: Organizer [Barry Wels] just became the first non-German to win an SSDeV competition with his key impressioning skills. We covered key impressioning when we saw his talk about high security keys at The Last Hope. He says it’s only been about two years worth of study and 500 keys to become a master. He managed to open the lock in 5:13 filing two whole keys during that time.
[photo: Rija 2.0]
[Barry Wels] is well known for his lockpicking talks, but this year he wanted to talk about how he copies high security keys. If a key blank is available, you could make a copy just by viewing the original. High security keys generally have profiles with more side cuts, which means you can guess at how deep a specific pin is by observing how many cuts it crosses. He also showed that you could imprint your arm with the key and use that as a guide. If a blank isn’t available, you could fill a similar key with solder and file that down.
[Barry] showed two different kits for casting keys. The first used soft clay in a clam shell to make an imprint of the original key. The form is then filled with a low melting point alloy (probably Wood’s metal) to create the new key. A second style uses a metal form and two part silicone to create the mold. This method works for most high security keys, but will not work on keys with active elements like sliders or magnets.
Finally, [Barry] talked about his favorite method: impressioning. Unlike picking a lock, when you’re done impressioning you have a funtional key. You start with key blank and file off the top layer. Place the blank in the lock and turn it till it jams. Then, you rock the key up and down. Observing the key under light you’ll see a small mark where each pin is. File a bit where the marks appear and repeat the process. You can’t use too much force or you might break the blank. This also works on dimple keys and as this video shows, laser cut keys. [Barry] highly recommends the impressioning book by [Oliver Diederichsen].
[photo: Rija 2.0]