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Steel Bolt Hacking

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the feel-uneasy-at-night dept.

Security 448

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.

You can purchase Steel Bolt Hacking from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Lock Picking For fun and Profit??? (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10258990)

Think that Kryptonite lock is safe? Think again [] .

Some other interesting discussion [] . Small wonder I scarcely let my racing bike out of my sight.

"may I borrow your pen? I need to pick up some transportation."

Re:Lock Picking For fun and Profit??? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259023)

I feel bad for the poor guy who you linked to - sites with video that get linked to from here usually don't last long.

Re:Lock Picking For fun and Profit??? (4, Interesting)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259203)

Haha, very nice videos. Will have to try that on my lost-the-key-so-long-ago bike lock at home.

In case the videos get /.'d, the technique appears to be that you jam the open end of those cheap plastic pens into the keyhole hard enough and turn it. I'm guessing the plastic is malleable enough to conform to the 'teeth' of the lock and basically becomes a near duplicate of the original key. Pretty neat.

Re:Lock Picking For fun and Profit??? (1)

billyjoeray (65862) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259241)

Take a look at the google ad on the forum thread []

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10258997)

first P

A valuable skill (5, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259006)

A few years ago I bought a few books on lock picking as well as a lock pick set from England. It turned out to be a great skill to pick up. I have opened countless door locks, cabinets, etc. and saved myself and others money and aggravation. The downside is that if it's widely known that you have this skill you may well be a "suspect" when an office or house is broken into. Anyway, the book sounds good.


Re:A valuable skill (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259107)

as well as a lock pick set from England [...] The downside is that if it's widely known that you have this skill you may well be a "suspect"

Just so you know, you don't have to be a 'suspect'. Owning of lockpicks is illegal. Pure and simple. I guess only terrorists use them or something.

Re:A valuable skill (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259267)

in which country is it illegal? blanket statements like that are not very useful.

are locksmiths also banned from lockpicks?

Re:A valuable skill (2, Informative)

Carik (205890) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259280)

Depends where you live, actually. I'm a locksmith (which is to say, I took a correspondance course, and then did a whole lot of reasearch on my own), and according to Massachusetts (USA) law, owning a set of picks isn't illegal. Owning them with intent to commit a crime is what's illegal. Now... you can probably see the problem here. Go ahead, prove you're not intending to commit a crime...

Basically, if the police want an excuse to harass you, they have one. If you stay out of their way, and don't make it obvious, usually no one will care. Further, if you can prove you need them for your job, you're even less likely to get hassled.

Re:A valuable skill (2, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259353)

Actually, you don't have to prove you're not intending to commit a crime. That's the beauty of innocent until proven guilty.

They could still make your life a living hell just by trying to prove it, though, so your harassment statement stands. Eep!

Re:A valuable skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259143)

How about some links man? That'll be great. Thanks!

Re:A valuable skill (2, Insightful)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259158)

The downside is that if it's widely known that you have this skill you may well be a "suspect" when an office or house is broken into.

Yeah, that's why I try not to buy books like this one over the internet... nor use my credit card / B&N "member" card when buying it in person.

Re:A valuable skill (5, Informative)

lhand (30548) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259169)

You might also check out Ted the Tool's on-line book called the "MIT Guide to Lock Picking" found here [] among lots of other places.

Re:A valuable skill (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259393)

Real informative there... It looks like it's broken.

Re:A valuable skill (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259355)

I went to your web page mentioned in your sig, and noticed that the weather picture of the hurricane [] now looks like a nude model....

or is it just me? Guess I need to get out more!

Lock Hacking in Hackers (5, Interesting)

MacBrave (247640) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259017)

I first read about serious lock hacking in the book Hackers [] by Steven Levy. The early hackers at MIT were notorious for hacking locks on office doors, toolboxes, safes, etc. to get to tools and information.

Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman (5, Interesting)

phyruxus (72649) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259092)

There's a great bit in the book "Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman" where he (Feynman) talks about safe-cracking. His propensity for beating locks gets him called into a boss' office where a safe containing nuclear secrets (or something ridiculously important like that) sits, but no-one knows the combination. So he sits down at the thing, presses his ear to the door and starts listening, only to have the thing pop open on the first try.

Everyone in the room goes "Ooooo! how did you do that? Are you really that good?" And he had the presence of mind to say, "Yes." =)

Re:Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman (1)

severoon (536737) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259146)

Ah yes, it didn't take long to get the Feynman reference into this discussion. How I love /.!

Re:Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman (2, Informative)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259343)

I haven't read it in a while, but wasn't the combination the STOCK combination from the factory?!

Feynman is my favorite wise-cracking, lock-hacking, bongo-playing, skirt-chasing Nobel physicist!

Re:Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259392)

Yes. It was something like that. It was not luck at all. He knew the combination ahead of time.

Re:Surely you must be joking Mr Feynman (2, Interesting)

seestheday (629799) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259417)

yes, it was 5,5,5 or something similar iirc. In the book he describes how most people just left the default combo in there. it's just like people having their bank passwords set to their name.

Re:Lock Hacking in Hackers (1)

TaxSlave (23295) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259272)

Hackers is a great book. I've read it a couple times, and I wish I knew whathappened to my copy. You'd think, since I run a used bookstore, that someone would have brought a copy in, but no...

A humorous note, my wife's ex-husband ate his blatties.

Noticed the trend as well (5, Funny)

Khaotix (229171) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259019)

Lockpicking and an interest in computers seem to go hand in hand. A number of the people in my college are seen practicing picking locks during boring lectures.

One guy picked the lock on a projector and cabled another person to the projector cart

Re:Noticed the trend as well (2, Funny)

knowles420 (589383) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259085)

Lockpicking and an interest in computers seem to go hand in hand.

lockpicking skill and an interest in computers, not so much.

Re:Noticed the trend as well (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259134)

You guys do realize that this is pretty fucking gay, right?

Re:Noticed the trend as well (2, Informative)

tsg (262138) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259379)

I learned how to pick locks in college. It was a valuable skill in the dorms where people were consistently locked out by their roommates. Housing charged you $25 to let you back in. I charged $20.

An interesting side effect, I'm sure one that goes with just about any skill most people don't have, is the number of times you see people in movies doing it absolutely wrong.

dintroduces (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259022)

dintroduces? Doesn't slashdot have a spell checker?

Yes. (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259077)

But it was outsourced to India.

Be patient... (4, Funny)

switcha (551514) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259036)

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.

No, he just lost his password for checking his email.

Re:Be patient... (1)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259183)

Funniest post I've read in months. thanks :)

fun links about lock vulnerabily (3, Informative)

knowles420 (589383) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259037)'s thread [] on picking the kryptonite U-locks with a bic pen tube.

quicktime movie [] of the same.

Plz hlep! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259048)

I sent this to their webmaster:

I find it somewhat humorous that on this page: spx []

the photo you use is that of a Macintosh PowerBook G4 15" (with the Apple logo on the back of the screen Photoshop-ed out), on a page about security summits and programs. While I don't want to get into a pissing contest about which OS is more secure, it's mildly humorous to find a Mac being used to advertise Microsoft's security, even if it is subtle.

Andy Ringsmuth

I'll try and keep an eye on it and see if they decide to change the photo.....

Legal issues (5, Informative)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259054)

In DC, basic possession of lockpicking instruments is illegal, unless you are a licensed locksmith. You don't have to prove intent. This is the same in many other states. Be careful and don't do anything stupid.

Re:Legal issues (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259103)

Mod parent up. I got into it a long time ago, and found out when you take trips to certain states/districts, leave the picks at home!

Re:Legal issues (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259118)

And, given the inevitable but accurate comparisons between lockpicking and system/network hacking, how long before basic possession of network-hacking tools (unsanctioned non-"trusted"/non-DRM computers, etc.) and skills is also inherently illegal, intent be damned?

Sigh. How far from cyberpunk dystopia are we now?

Re:Legal issues (1)

zangdesign (462534) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259263)

Hmmm. I may have to rethink my mild opposition to guns in light of the amount of information out there teaching some waste of DNA to pick my household locks.

Re:Legal issues (2, Funny)

jdray (645332) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259179)

So everyone should stop carrying Bic pens?

Re:Legal issues (5, Interesting)

severoon (536737) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259181)

Yes, this became true in CA a few years ago as well. This seems sort of ridiculous to can they outlaw lockpicks? They're just tools--it's like outlawing crowbars because they're afraid someone will use them for evil.

Anyway, in most states that have outlawed them, you can still get your hands on them by simply registering and passing the test to become a "licensed locksmith". This doesn't necessarily mean you have to hold yourself out as a business, either. It just means you passed some test and registered with the state so you can carry around your lockpick set. I've been thinking about doing this off and on, because in college I lived with a guy from Caltech for a summer, so I of course had a window into lockpicking as a result and it caught my interest.

Re:Legal issues (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259425)

how can they outlaw lockpicks? They're just tools
Laws do not always make sense. For example, in Texas (or just Austin?), Wire cutters can not be carried in your pocket [] .

Lawmakers will happily outlaw owning certain tools if they feel it's in their interests to do so, and often groups will lobby them to make sure it's in their interests.

Re:Legal issues (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259213)

Funny thing about that requirement. About 10-12 years ago, I knew a guy who went through the trouble to become a licensed locksmith. Then he could legally carry lockpicks. He would use those lockpicks to rip off vending and gambling machines.


Re:Legal issues (1)

Cygnusx12 (524532) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259342)

There are exceptions to these laws for Police as well as fire and ambulance crews. (Which I'm sure also vary from state to state).

Re:Legal issues (1)

wattersa (629338) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259430)

In DC, basic possession of lockpicking instruments is illegal, unless you are a licensed locksmith.

same in CA. But those laws, like many minor offenses, are only on the books so the authorities can e.g. violate a parolee when they search him and find the lockpicking tools on him, or so the prosecutor can enhance someone's sentence (a.k.a. "throw the book" at someone). Stay under the radar of the criminal justice system and you don't have to worry as much.

For god's sake people, stop kidding yourselves (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259059)

It is now official. Netcraft confirms: Eros [] is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Eros community when IDC confirmed that Eros market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 0.0001 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Eros has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Eros is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Research Projects That Promise Much But Go Nowhere networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict Eros's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Eros faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Eros because Eros is dying. Things are looking very bad for Eros. As many of us are already aware, Eros continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Eros leader Jonathan Shapiro states that there are 7 users of Eros. How many users of KeyKos are there? Let's see. KeyKos is at about 8 percent of the Eros market. Therefore there are 7 + 1 = 8 users of either Eros or KeyKos. This is consistent with the number of Eros Usenet posts.

Due to troubles at University of Pennsylvania, abysmal development speed and so on, Eros went through a "focus shift" by doing a useless rewrite in C and was taken over by Johns Hopkins University, who attempted to continue development on this troubled OS. Then the project was sidetracked while precious development resources went towards creating Yet Another Useless Version Control System [] . Now it is dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that Eros has steadily declined in market share. Eros is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Eros is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. Eros continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Eros is dead.

Fact: Eros is dying

I Was Going To Review This Book... (0, Redundant)

Chaotic Evil Cleric (622653) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259062)

... but I locked my copy in my dad's safe and now I can't remember the combination.

Rejected Titles for the book: (-1, Troll)

mesmartyoudumb (471890) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259065)

Not Dorky Enough? Try this!

How to Reclaim your Virginity.

not to split hairs or anything... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259168)

How to Reclaim your Virginity

as this has already been modded a troll, but shouldn't it be How to Lose your Virginity?

Who can beat this?!!! (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259079)

My first task at the first job I ever had that required a security clearance was to pick a lock.

It was on a removable HD tray that jammed, but the story's better when I leave that part out.
You believe me, right? I posted it on slashdot!

Re:Who can beat this?!!! (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259271)

I had to get into the cases of a dozen or so surplus PCs, which we had no case lock keys for any more. They were old Siemens-Nixdorf ones, where the lock was quite hard to get at, and physically locked the lid in place. The PHB was going mental, trying to get Siemens to supply him with keys, etc.

Now, those of you who have read a few of my posts may recall that I do a lot of work on cars. So, out to the car park, into the boot of my car, and out with the angle grinder. It *did* take a long time to cut the lock heads off - and it did scuff up the back of the case a little. The locks were made of extremely hard steel, but nothing the old noisy spanner couldn't get off...

So what locks ARE good?!? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259087)

Like computer hacking, the primary value to most people is not learning how to hack, but learning how to make things more hack-proof.

So does this book have any recommendations along those lines? What door locks, deadbolts, padlocks, bike locks, etc, follow the locksmith version of "best security practices"?

That, IMHO, is the REALLY important thing to discuss!

Re:So what locks ARE good?!? (2, Informative)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259229)

So does this book have any recommendations along those lines? What door locks, deadbolts, padlocks, bike locks, etc, follow the locksmith version of "best security practices"?

It seems that people in the hobby are reluctant to endorse brands. I saw Barry "The Key" Wels at HOPE this year. His presentation involved the pricey (and supposedly uber-secure) Medico locks and another brand of expensive lock that he agreed with the manufacturer to keep the brand name hidden during his talk.

When his talk shifted to his CryptoPhone project, he politely sidestepped an audience member asking what kind of lock he had on the doors of CryptoPhone's offices.

Re:So what locks ARE good?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259322)

Some guy in Canada has started and has only had one remote hole in 8 years!

the primary value (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259354)

Erm...that's what you say to the mainstream media but you can tell the truth here on slashdot. You know full well that very few competitive lockpickers are doing it for anything other than entertainment and very few are actually going to feed back their knowledge to help lock manufacturers improve their products.

Re:So what locks ARE good?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259398)

In my experience, the only secure lock is one that is kept in a locked room.

Rinse and repeat.

practice? (2, Funny)

TheMusicRebel (621633) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259089)

What? do you go to Home Depot to practice?

Article at (5, Informative)

PHPee (559830) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259102)

If you're interested in learning a bit about lock picking, but aren't sure you want to spend $20 on this book yet, take a look at this article [] at

It offers a great introduction to lock picking, and has some nice graphics that really helped me understand how locks work, and how they can be circumvented. If you really get into it, then I'm sure this book would offer a lot more information to help you along.

Re:Article at (1)

Scrab (573004) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259385)

And the great thing is, you can track which pages most /.ers are on by which pages only load on the thrid try....

There's actually two sides to it... (4, Interesting)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259108)

I've found over the years, simply being self-taught, that there are very few locks I can't get into using stuff I carry on me or stuff that's easy to find (leatherman tool, paperclip, sewing needle, whatever.)

There's a much larger number of locks that I can't get into without making it patently obvious somebody broke in. This is something I haven't been as successful in teaching myself.

The former is engineering. The latter, that's art.


Information demands to be free! PDF the thing !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259110)


Information demands to be free! PDF the thing !! 19 bux? Screw that. Somebody type it into pdf a post a link. I'll give you until tomorrow.


tbiznatch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259114)

to keep up as it was fun. If I'm haplees *BSD The politic4l mess walk up to a play

As with computers... (5, Funny)

MonolithicX (656642) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259116)

the easiest way to break in is to crawl through a window.

Re:As with computers... (1)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259332)

Actually, with US frame houses (a lumber frame with masonite siding that looks like cardboard on stereoids), a window would be overkill. Just stick a pen knife through the wall, remove the siding, remove the insulation and repeat for the inside wall. If you can pass through a 16 inch crack, this will get you inside most houses.

Lock picking for fun and profit (3, Interesting)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259121)

At work we have 4 of those 8' tall cabinets with the small keys and cheap locks. My building has 80 people working in it, so it was a pain when someone used the cabinet and ran off with the key. Who could it be? I told them I could knew how to pick locks. Really I meant that I saw a tutorial on about 6 months ago. I was talking out my ass but gave it a shot anyway. In about 2 minutes I had picked their crappy lock and we could tell who took the key by the stuff that was in the cabinet. Everyone in my office kept saying "I don't want to know what you did before you worked here." I tried to keep my "skills" quiet though. Didn't want people looking to me when stuff went missing.

Wait... (3, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259125)

So now you're telling me that Douglas Chick is the master of unlocking? Well, Barry Burton told me that Jill Valentine was...

Free gmail invite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259128)

to anyone who signs up for an offer on [] .

Sounds like fun (1)

AcidFnTonic (791034) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259130)

I myself enjoy lock picking... sounds like yet another thing which will soon be illegal even to talk about...

I used to sit in study hall and pick my old gym lock (it had the keyhole on the back for teachers) by the end of the year I could pick any gym lock in about 10 seconds flat. Although I have ethics and never did anything with that talent, I will always be interested in something like this

Handcuffs (1)

donbrock (705779) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259139)

I had a job once where they gave me a desk and a chair with a pair of handcuffs locked to it. Apparently, they had to literally chain the last guy to the chair to get any work out of him but they had long since lost the key.

I had nothing to do for a day or two so, using a paperclip, I was able to master the technique of unlocking it.

Now if I ever get arrested and handcuffed (and happen to have a paperclip in my hand) I'll be ready.

This is nothing new (2, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259140)

Locks just like security fixes and such only make it more difficult for someone to break in. We've covered the kensington lock vulnerability before here: 5&tid=172&tid=184&tid=1

Ultimately everything is hackable, hard and software, by those who have too much time and a little knowhow.

It just sure is nice to be one of those people.

Here's where you get the metal for lockpicks, free (5, Informative)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259150)

Learned this at MIT a million years ago.

Wait until the streep sweeper comes by and follow it down the street. The bristles are spring steel that is perfect for lock picks. They fall off, just pick them up off the street.

I've never made a set of picks so I don't know if this is true or not, but there was a decent lock picking culture at MIT in the late 70s.

Re:Here's where you get the metal for lockpicks, f (3, Informative)

BlowChunx (168122) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259225)

Speaking of MIT, why hasn't anyone mentioned the MIT lock picking guide [] ?

Re:Here's where you get the metal for lockpicks, f (1)

lhand (30548) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259254)

I used to make keys to the school locks from those street-sweeper bristles. I'd fold them over to match the lock, use wire to hold them in place, and file notches in them to match the keys.

Of course, I also used them for my picks. They are great for the tension wrenches. I still have some I made at least 30 years ago.

Re:Here's where you get the metal for lockpicks, f (1)

chrismtb (778837) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259259)

MIT Guide to Lockpicking [] - Fairly thorough guide on lockpicking.

Richard Feynman was a Stell Bold Hacker (2, Insightful)

notestein (445412) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259152)

Pick up a copy of "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

It's a good quick ready and talks about his lock picking and safe cracking while working on the Manhattan projcet at Los Alamos.

Or read about it here []

hmm... (1)

liloconf (560960) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259153)

1. Buy Book
2. Make Lock Pick
3. ???????
4. Profit!!!

Nothing's unpickable - how big a mess do you want? (5, Interesting)

Silicon_Knight (66140) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259162)

For locks like a Medaco lock - in which the tumblers have to be rotated to a certain angle (usually 15 deg increments) as well as lifted to a certain height - AFAIK there are no tools out there that can pick that. However, even the strongest locks uses brass for the tumblers (Medacos are no exception - at least the one that I opened up to play with :) ).

Brass is primarily a copper alloy. It is extremely reactive in the presence of strong acids. A few years back, a friend of mine wanted to look at a smart card under a microscope - just curious, that's all. I was working in a research lab then, and I mixed hydrochloric acid with nitric acid to make aqua regia. We were able to dissolve the GOLD contacts off the smart card to expose the chip underneath. (Aqua regia is used for lot assay analysis of alloys to determine alloy composition - you start by dissolving the metal, then feed it through some form of spectroscopy machine to measure the quantity and the composition of the metal). If I had squirted that into the door lock and held it in place with some bubble gum ... I could probably have opened the door with just a screwdriver after the tumblers are dissolved.

- SK

Re:Nothing's unpickable - how big a mess do you wa (1)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259298)

A shot of Freon or R-12 will freeze the lock components to the point that they will shatter when struck with a pointed chisel and hammer. The only problem with that is that you've just left evidence. With a precise picking, the point of entry is hard to determine.

Re:Nothing's unpickable - how big a mess do you wa (5, Interesting)

mkettler (6309) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259358)

For that matter, most structures surrounding locks aren't indestructible either. When you get down too it, someone can break into a lot of places by driving sledgehammer or truck through the door.

However, that makes lots of noise. It's hard to protect an office building from a bulldozer attack, but then again, it's pretty hard to sneak around with a bulldozer.

Really an attack involving strong acids isn't much more practical. Not many thieves want to walk around with a bottle of highly concentrated HCL hidden in their pocket. (think spillage while trying to run from the police)

Your best bet in any physical security is to try and make the thief do one or more of the following:
1) make a lot of noise (defeating stealth)
2) leave a lot of good evidence about the intrusion (defeating anonymity)
3) use specialized or expensive tools (defeating any financial gain)
4) use a tool too unwieldy or impractical to transport inconspicuously. (defeating stealth)

Of course, scale the measures to fit the value of what you're hiding.

80% of locks cheap crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259166)

At least here in Finland practically all locks seem to be Abloy.. (well, except for cars, bicycles etc)

Re:80% of locks cheap crap? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259334)

Abloy was bought out by Medeco, last I checked. Medeco makes a heck of a lock, but until recently the blanks were brittle and they tended to break in your hand if you twisted the key too hard in the lock.

Abloy locks employ a sidebar and rotating disks. It's very, very difficult to pick them for several reasons; sidebar locks are intrinsically difficult to pick (such as the old GM locks, which didn't have a pick set for them until the late 1980's or early 1990's, when some smartass figured out that you could use a special spring compression tool to allow the wafers to free-float. That makes them subject to move when vibrated or rapped, and the sidebar (which is then under spring pressure) can line them up.

Abloy has no such constraint. IIRC, the world record for picking an Abloy is 36 hours. That may have changed; I don't know.

For high security locks like Medeco, ASSA, Abloy, etc., the fastest way through them is a grinder. Used to be an ice pick attack to the latch, and although some locks are still improperly installed, that's largely gone the way of the dodo.

As a locksmith myself, I'd rather have Abloy on my doors more than anything else. But they're hard to find here in the US, so I use Medeco instead. Beats the hell out of a $15 Kwikset, lemme tell you.

BN no longer has this book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259182)

the link at BN says they are all out...

Back to basic, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259194)

now that every computer related device gets Quantum-Encrypted, let's just screw that, time to get back to basics for some fun.
I can't wait to pick the lock of some super secret satellite, yeah, right up there.
That will be a joyride.

MIT Guide to Lockpicking (0, Redundant)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259199)

This is the guide we learnt from back in about 1994. We downloaded a .ps of it from the web. You can Google for it, and it's available in HTML form now.

Sometimes thinking outside the box helps. (3, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259208)

If your aim is just to gain surreptitious entry, there may be easier ways than picking the lock.

When my father died, he left some important papers in a locked drawer in his file cabinet. The key was nowhere to be found. But the drawer above it had no lock. I just removed that one.

Older Steelcase desks with a center drawer actuated locking mechanism could be opened (well, except for the center drawer itself) by just reaching behind that drawer and lifting up the lever that locked all the others.

MIT Guide to Lockpicking (4, Informative)

Tassach (137772) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259212)

I'm suprised no one has linked to the (in)famous MIT Guide to Lockpicking [] yet.

Re:MIT Guide to Lockpicking (1)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259296)

I wish I had known about this site when I was locked out on my own balcony and forced to jump.

Well, I suppose I would also wish for to be locked out with my laptop.

Oh, and be in WiFi range.

Or at least have this book handy.

Well, since I'm wishing, I suppose I could wish to not get locked out, too.

Re:MIT Guide to Lockpicking (4, Interesting)

Giant Killer (33130) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259434)

I'm suprised no one has linked to the (in)famous MIT Guide to Lockpicking yet.
Dang it, I was going to post that. Now I would just be redundant.

Lockpicking was standard teaching for freshman the East Campus dorm at MIT. This guide has served as the standard since around 1991 iirc. During the yearly EC "Oddball Olympics" lockpicking was one of the main events. I remember a masterlock being picked in 9 seconds. Really, masterlock padlocks can be that easy. And I've seen master hackers (roof and tunnel in this case) spend an hour and a half on a Schlage and never get it.

This is a great guide and a good place to start, but lockpicking is all about feel. Like anything else, it just takes practice to get good.

Your nearest lock picking group... (2, Funny)

dcw3 (649211) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259232)


The Club!!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259245)

I always love watching people secure their Clubs to their steering wheels and feel so secure. What has happened is thieves bypass the Club and hacksaw the steering wheel itself. Steering wheel broken, slide Club through hole, no more club!!

Re:The Club!!!! (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259348)

I think the club is like bear and tennis shoes old joke.

Bear starts chasing two men in the woods.
One guy stops and puts on his tennis shoes.
Other guy yells "what are you doing those shoes
won't make you faster than the bear!"
First guy replies "I don't have to be faster than the bear just faster than you."

B&N doesn't have it... (0, Redundant)

stankulp (69949) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259256)

...but Amazon does. 74 463019/qid=1095277034/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/002-729179 8-4311214?v=glance&s=books

here be the pdf (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10259269)


Funky-type pdf Guide.pdf

~!-xor it-guide/


Those links to the PDF don't work... (1)

stankulp (69949) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259351)

...too bad.

Hacking? (1)

Carbon Unit 549 (325547) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259299)

What's next a safe hacker?

Lock Picking Tools... (1)

NormHome (99305) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259317)

I may be wrong but a friend of mine once told me that it's against the law (at least here in NJ, USA) to own lock picking tools unless you're a licenced lock smith.

Re:Lock Picking Tools... (2, Insightful)

neverutterwhen (813161) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259366)

I heard that rumour too. But let's face it provided you don't go carrying them around in the utility belt of your black catsuit right next to the grappling winch and pocket arc cutter you're not going to be arrested. And if it's just a hobby you won't be carrying them around anyway.

Other lock-picking resources. (5, Informative)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259337)

First, the obligatory link to a mirror of the MIT Lockpicking Guide [] .

Second - as another poster noted, lock pins aren't typically made from high-strength alloys. A battery-powered hand drill (and a screwdriver to turn the lock when the pins are gone) is the best and fastest lock pick that there is. Didn't even leave any visible damage when I used this approach on a filing cabinet we'd lost the key to. Just pick a bit as wide as the key entryway, and drill down the line of pins.

Be advised that the lock tends to jam after closing again, as the remains of the pins fall back into their channels when the lock returns to its original position. But if you're drilling a lock, you're typically looking for a one-time solution anyways.

this looks cool (0, Offtopic)

beefcake101 (813555) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259394)

i might have to give it a try.. i guess no more useing credit cards to open locks anymore

NOT available at B&N (2, Informative)

still cynical (17020) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259418)

Forget the link to B&N, try Amazon [] instead.

Testing claims yourself... (5, Interesting)

Render_Man (181666) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259429)

I've participated in the Lockpick contest for the last 2 years. It's been a blast. Quite a challenge too. The book is'nt anything hugely groundbreaking (check out [] for a really amazing book), but it's a good thing to read if your curious or if your like me and are not very good at explaing how to do it to others.

I just find lockpicking facinating because it's yet another case of people proving manufacturers claims are often highly exadurated, or just full of BS. Knowing, and proving for yourself what makes a good lock vs. a bad lock fits well into the computer security dynamic (Physical security anyone?). That extra $1-2 for a master brand lock can buy you several minutes more security vs. a cheap look alike that can be shimmed in about 3 seconds, kind of useful to know. They can both be opened, but your less likely to have a thief willing to be exposed for several minutes than for a few seconds. The Kyptonite vulnerability now makes everyone re-think trusting the manufactureres claims now does'nt it?

It's also a handy skill for those inevitable times when someone locks the server cabinet and loses the key and you don't want to pay a locksmith through the nose. I also use my skill in security audits to very dramatically show how little security that cheap lock on ther server room provides.

I've got some descriptions of the contests and LP resources up at my site [] and some links to videos and the MIT guide if anyones curious.

Just remember that there is little a set of bolt cutters, a crow bar, or a sledge hammer can't get through. Lockpicking is the 'elegant solution' to that (literal) brute force.

Go magnetic (2, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 10 years ago | (#10259435)

Just use a magnetic [] lock.
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