Locksmith Industry Reacts to Potential Risks From 3-D Printed Keys

Getting locked out of your house is never a good thing, and there is never a convenient time to have it happen. If you are unlucky enough to get locked out, a local house locksmith can help you get back in and get back on with your day. It is a good idea to have a few local lockout services in mind ahead of time, so you know who to call if something happens.

Most of today’s lock and key experts understand locksmith electronic locks as well as traditional manual lock systems. If you do end up locked out, you will need to try and find someone to assist you without having access to your home phone. You can have a neighbor help you call someone, or you can use your cell phone if you have it on you.

Modern smart devices can also be helpful as you can use voice commands to simply tell Siri or Alexa to ‘find a locksmith near me open Sunday mornings’ or ‘where can I find a locksmith near me open today? However you go about it, working with your local locksmith is the best way to ensure you get professional and experienced assistance when you need it most.

It’s no secret that 3-D printers already possess a great deal of security issues, but the latest discovery in security breaches made possible with 3-D printers may hit a little close to home for anyone worried about break-ins and burglaries. Jos Weyers and Christian Holler, both competitive lock-pickers and security consultants, have discovered a method called “bumping” which allows a blank key to be inserted into a lock — nearly any lock — and effectively unlock it.

Anyone with access to a 3-D printer and a special software called PhotoBump can print out these blank keys and use the traditional lock-picking technique of “bumping” to insert the blank key into the lock and “bump” the end gently with a hammer, allowing the teeth on the keys to knock against the pins of the lock cylinder and opening it. As long as the lock-picker can see the keyhole he or she is trying to pick, the PhotoBump software can analyze a picture of the lock and determine the depth, which allows the lock to be picked.

It’s remarkable that the entire process can be done without any access to the original key, but the most jarring part of this development isn’t the actual “bumping” technique itself, the concept of blank keys, or the software. High-security companies have known about “bumping” techniques with blank keys for a while, and they take extra precautions to make sure that their blank keys are patented and can only be sold to small group of verified customers at a steep price. But the new development from Weyers and Holler makes it clear that it may become more difficult to monitor the people allowed to possess blank keys. Now, apparently, all one needs is the PhotoBump software and a 3-D printer.

Although this demonstration has certainly shaken up the security industry quite a bit, it isn’t uncommon for security breaches to be discovered regularly as new technology becomes more available. In fact, it may even work to the benefit of security companies to find out about these breaches — since there is so much press surrounding the issue, locksmiths are seeing this as an opportunity to educate people on what they can do to make their homes and vehicles more secure.

Increased public interest in the 3-D blank key may also encourage authorities to take swift measures to restrict who has access to PhotoBump, and when it can be used. Rather than ignoring security breaches and covering them up, publicizing these developments can help people understand that no lock is completely impenetrable, but that industry experts are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the game and keep these techniques out of the hands of dangerous lock-pickers.

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