Scientists from the National University of Singapore have found that the sound of a key entering a lock is enough to create a copy of that same key. Recording, isolating, and analyzing the sounds you want will take a lot of work and equipment, but the very feature is eye-catching.
Traditional locks are designed in the same way: the key grooves lift several locking pins inside the lock so that its cylinder can be turned and opened the door. The contact of the grooves with the pins creates characteristic clicks that can be used to calculate the lock’s configuration – and the shape of its key. To reduce the number of possible combinations, you should accept some restrictions – for example, that the key has a standard length (this limits the angles of its grooves).
The developers named their analysis system SpiKey. It is not 100% accurate, but it allows you to create several candidate keys that can be tested on the desired lock. In most cases, it offers no more than three possible keys, one of which works. The mathematical model of SpiKey’s operation is rather complicated, but it gives the following result: out of 586 584 possible pin position combinations that are available with a conventional 6-pin lock, 56% (330 424) are vulnerable to the SpiKey attack. Of these 330,424 combinations, 94% can be reduced to less than 10 candidate keys.
In its current form, hacking with SpiKey is technically difficult – but possible. At the same time, the technology has the potential for modification and improvements.