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January 27, 2005 3:55 AM   Subscribe

Learn to Safecrack! [pdf] Last year, computer scientist and cryptologist Matt Blaze drew ire from the locksmithing community for publically revealing information on how to create the master key to a lock (previous MetaFilter discussion). He's back with a paper on cracking safes. Once again, locksmiths are up in arms over Blaze's disregard of trade secrets. Apparently, safes adhere to the principle of security through obscurity rather than Kerckhoff's Law. [via]
posted by painquale (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Edit: The first sentence should say "Two years ago," not "Last year."
posted by painquale at 4:10 AM on January 27, 2005


I read that PDF last month when it was posted to Slashdot. It's long but thorough and absolutely fascinating.
posted by intermod at 5:05 AM on January 27, 2005


I particularly like how 'Ed "Lockie" NYC Locksmith, Retired' gathers his witch-burning friends using 'homeland security' as the rationale for his intellectual thuggery.

Nice to know that people like that are looking out for us.
posted by blindsam at 5:10 AM on January 27, 2005


It's to bad about 'Lockie', really. Security through obscurity never works out in the long run. Stranger, though, is that every conversation I've ever had with a local locksmith has been very amicable. I had an hour long conversation in a parking lot with a locksmith, comparing tools (his professional, mine DIY) and techniques. He didn't seem the least bit interested in protecting 'trade secrets'.

Really, I doubt there are any more big trade secrets in locksmithing. As long as you're willing to pay for it (expensive hobby), the information is out there in a number of forms. It's just that it's much more expensive and harder to practice.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 7:01 AM on January 27, 2005


The secret isn't this information, it's the fact that it's widely known already. Even that I'm not too sure about - I find it hard to believe any locksmith thinks that these safe lock mechanisms aren't already widely discussed in the appropriate communities. The PDF is a great read. I learned a few things, but for the most part, I've known the basics of these types of safes ever since I took apart a few, admittedly more basic, locks myself. Hardly worth the hype these locksmiths are giving it, but fascinating all the same.
posted by odinsdream at 8:25 AM on January 27, 2005


This is also interesting, if you haven't seen it yet. It's a lecture on the history of safecracking.
posted by pekar wood at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2005


If you want to see a fictional overview of many of the points covered in the article, check out Michael Mann's movie Thief from the early 1980's.

Good view of drilling as well as the use of a burn bar to open some pretty impressive safes with a musical backdrop composed by Tangerine Dream.
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:49 AM on January 27, 2005


Du rififi chez les hommes (reviewed by Ebert) is one of the best heist/safe cracker flicks I've seen, as long as we're devolving.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:33 PM on January 27, 2005


See also this article on lock picking from the current issue of Wired.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:33 PM on January 29, 2005


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