Alec Kryten writes "Here is a book that introduces and teaches a fascinating new sport for the hacking hobbyist which doesn't necessarily involve computers. Steel bolt hacking is the art of competition lock picking that is beginning to make its mark on computer people and other geeks around the world. At DefCon this year I picked up a book titled Steel Bolt Hacking, which teaches the basics of lock picking. I bought it because I watched the lock-picking contest during the DefCon Convention and thought that I might want to participate in next year's lock-picking events." Read on for Alec's review of the book.
The beginning of the book discusses the origins of lock-picking sporting groups, crews in the U.S and Europe, competition around the country, and how to become a part of a lock-picking group. One of the groups out of Colorado Springs, DC719, are a bunch of computer geeks that have taken up the art of lock picking and sponsor a lock-picking contest every year at DefCon. According to Mr. Chick, computer people are the fastest group to pick up the art of lock picking. (I must warn you though, there are also a lot of disclaimers about the author not being responsible for the misuses of the information contained in this book.)
The book is fully illustrated with pictures of different types of lock picking instruments, tools to make your own picks as well as padlocks, deadbolt, and combination locks. There are pictures of locks that have been cut open and even how to crack push-button combination locks. (You know, the kind you find on the door to a server room.) I have to say, for a little book, (114 pages) it is brimming with valuable information for a beginner. What I didn't realize was that software isn't the only thing that has security vulnerabilities; mechanical things like padlocks and deadbolts do as well. What was scary to learn is how easy cheap locks can be picked, and that 80 percent of all locks used are cheap locks. Expensive locks are just likely to take a little longer.
I liked that the book didn't exaggerate. It didn't tell me that I was going to be a master lock picker after only a few tries. It took a little time, practice and sore fingers, but after a couple weeks of practice, I could pick every lock in my house. And as a computer person, I liked all of the jargon that was used to explain locksmith techniques. There was also enough humor to keep the book interesting; it's difficult to read any type of textbook and still maintain a reasonable interest. The illustrations are good and there is a resource section to purchase the tools you need from the Internet.
What I didn't like about the book: The most annoying point, I felt, is the considerable redundancy in methods between different types of locks to be picked. Also, the book suggests that there might be a lock-picking group in every city in the U.S., when in fact I am having a difficult time finding one in my are. And I live near D.C. -- You'd think there would be one on every corner around here. I think that the sport is still in its infancy and Mr. Chick is hoping his book will draw more people to it. The author put his e-mail address on the back of the book. He hasn't responded to my e-mail yet, but I suppose that he's probably a busy man.
All in all, I found the book informative, entertaining and worth the purchase price of 19.99.
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