I recently appeared on the Uncensored Tactical Podcast. Pat (the host) and I discussed a topic I rarely get to talk about: covert key generation. It was a super fun show, and not a topic I get to talk about with many people.
This article contains affiliate links.
If you haven’t listened to Uncensored Tactical, it’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite shows. The show primarily focuses on one of a few major topic areas: locks/lockpicking, ideas and concepts of freedom as they relate to politics, and some tactics/tactical equipment. If you’re looking for a place to start – other than my episode, of course – my hands-down favorite episode of Uncensored Tactical by far is, “Uncensored Rules for Tactical Operations.”
Covert Key Generation
What is key generation? It’s the process of making a key from information derived from a lock. Yes, it is possible to make an operating key for most locks, just using information gleaned from the outside of the lock, in its secure condition. They don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment; really all that’s required is a set of vise grips, a file, and a key blank (Schlage C, Kwikset KW1). This comes as a huge surprise to most people.
I discuss the elements of information required to make an operating key (hint: there’s a direct mechanical correlation to everything, and no magic is required). I talked about how to gain each one of these elements from the lock. I also talked about how to gain them from a key. All of the information – the key profile, the number of cuts, and the depth of each cut – is much more easily discovered from a key.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that you should never leave your keys in plain sight or post pictures of them on the internet. If your keys are visible, you’re giving someone everything they need to make a copy of your key. Would you leave the password to your email account lying around, even though most people probably aren’t going to use it? I doubt you would. But why would you take photos of your keys, wear them visibly on your belt, or leave them lying around? People have weird hobbies; don’t assume that “no one knows how to do that!” If you’re interested in learning key generation, I STRONGLY recommend Deviant Ollam’s outstanding Keys to the Kingdom: Impressioning, Privilege Escalation, Bumping, and Other Key-Based Attacks Against Physical Locks.
If you guys want more lock-related content over here, feel free to let me know. I’ve most been writing whatever I feel like, but if there is significant interest I will definitely consider it. Thanks!