The researcher, Matt Blaze of AT&T Labs-Research, found the vulnerability by applying his area of expertise — the security flaws that allow hackers to break into computer networks — to the real-world locks and keys that have been used for more than a century in office buildings, college campuses and some residential complexes.
The attack described by Mr. Blaze, which is known by some locksmiths, leaves no evidence of tampering. It can be used without resorting to removing the lock and taking it apart or other suspicious behavior that can give away ordinary lock pickers.
All that is needed, Mr. Blaze wrote, is access to a key and to the lock that it opens, as well as a small number of uncut key blanks and a tool to cut them to the proper shape. No special skills or tools are required; key-cutting machines costing hundreds of dollars apiece make the task easier, but the same results can be achieved with a simple metal file.” NY Times
- the research paper by Blaze describing the vulnerability, Cryptology and Physical Security: Rights Amplification in Master-Keyed Mechanical Locks (.pdf)
- Blaze’s apologia for making the information public, Master-Keyed Lock Vulnerability crypto.com