Anyone who follows the Internet closely has probably seen bulletins in the last few weeks warning of the weaknesses in both electronic and mechanical lock systems. In one case, VW has reportedly sued the University of Birmingham in UK after the University announced plans to divulge ways to hack into the electronic security systems of VW, Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini vehicles. VW claimed that the information would put the security of some of their most expensive cars at risk. In another report, Mercedes Benz C class, BMW 3 series and the Infiniti G headed the list of most stolen luxury cars during 2009-2012. Talk at the ALOA convention centered on a software program being demonstrated which was designed to unlock a specific electronic safe lock in a few minutes.
Mechanical lock systems are also not immune from the hacking bug. A new Internet site shows methods for bypassing one of the most popular deadbolt locks on the market with no outward physical damage. Internet information also describes how a 3-D copy machine can be used to make a working plastic or metal model of a high security key. There have also been reports during the last few years about a bypass method which could be easily used by an untrained person to open a specific type of lock. Lock names and lock types are not important to this discussion but all of these things added together indicate that there are currently some problems to solve in our industry which require immediate attention.
Our locksmith industry is no different than any other industry. Improvement is a way of life. Change happens as problems, failures or new inventions arise. Old car engines did function with carburetors but who wants to return to car engines with carburetors when the development of fuel injection provides instant starting and better fuel economy?
Since the time that someone developed skeleton keys to bypass wards, manufacturers have kept ahead of the game with new versions of key systems from standard pin tumbler to high security types. As soon as people developed bypass methods for each new invention, manufacturers went back to the drawing board and improved their invention.
The problem with any physical object such as a key is that given enough time and energy, the pyhsical object can be replicated. When inventions such as 3D printers enter the mix, almost any physical object such as a key is increasingly susceptible to duplication.
Electronics is another story. Keypads do not require a physical object in order to be operated. As more and more parts of our life become electrified, the public will expect security to move down the same path. In my opinion, most future security products will be controlled electronically. A dual-credential system such as using both a cell phone and fingerprint reader or remote and retina scan will make it less likely that hackers will be able to easily 'break' the system. Something new will always come along to make the life of a locksmith enjoyable and profitable.