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Book Reviews: Lockpicking Books From Deviant Ollam 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes "It is well known that the password, while the most widespread information security mechanism, is also one of the most insecure. It comes down to the fact that the average person can't create and maintain secure passwords. When it comes to physical locks, the average lock on your home and in your office is equally insecure. How insecure it in? In two fascinating books on the topic, Deviant Ollam writes in Practical Lock Picking, Second Edition: A Physical Penetration Testers Training Guide and Keys to the Kingdom: Impressioning, Privilege Escalation, Bumping, and Other Key-Based Attacks Against Physical Locks that it is really not that difficult. When it comes to information security penetration tests done on the client site, the testers will most often have permission to be inside the facility. On rare occasions, the testers need to find alternative means to gain entrance. Sometimes that means picking the locks." Keep reading to learn if you'll be picking locks soon.
Practical Lock Picking, 2nd ed. / Keys to the Kingdom
author Deviant Ollam
pages 296 / 256
publisher Syngress
rating 9/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-1597499897 / 978-1597499835
summary Two excellent books on the fundamentals of lockpicking
All of the information in the books is long known to professional locksmiths. For those whose responsibilities include physical security, it is hoped that they are at least at the level of the locksmiths, and have designed their physical security plant accordingly.

Ollam is a member of The Open Organization Of Lockpickers (TOOOL), a group whose goal is to advance the general public knowledge about locks and lock picking. TOOL'S mantra is that the more that people know about lock technology, the better they are capable of understanding how and where certain weaknesses are present. This makes them well-equipped to participate in sport picking endeavors and also helps them simply be better consumers in the marketplace, making decisions based on sound fact and research. In these books, Ollam stays true to that mantra.

The two books have some overlap. Practical Lock Picking is meant as a beginners guide to lock picking, and is intended to be a hands-on guide with hundreds of pictures and diagrams.

Ollam writes in a clear-cut and systematic manner, describing all of the details needed. Nearly every page includes pictures and diagrams to illustrate the point. In 6 easily readable chapters, Ollam covers the core areas needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic of lock picking. By the end of the book, you won't be a locksmith or even close. But for those that have locksmithing in their blood, or want to get greater insights, the book will be a great resource that will help them get there.

Chapter 1 starts the book on the fundamentals of pin tumbler and wafer locks; which are two of the most common types of locks in use. Ollam notes that while there are a multitude of lock designs on the market today produced by many different manufactures, the bulk of these locks are not in widespread use. With that, he notes that if the reader can understand the basics of just a few styles of locks, he is confident that the reader should be open top open with great east at least 75% of the locks they are likely to encounter, and even more as you become more skilled with them.

After the introduction, chapter 2 gets into the basics of lock picking and how to exploit weaknesses that most locks have. Many of these weaknesses are due to errors in the manufacturing process, which the book details. Information security guru has observed that "security is a tax on the honest majority". He writes that security often does not keep that bad guys out. Similarly, insecure physical locks will do little to keep the bad guys out, which Ollam so persuasively writes about.

In chapter 5, Ollam details what he terms quick-entry tricks, which is done via shimming, bumping and bypassing. Lock bumping has gotten a lot of media exposure in the last few years, but has been around for nearly 100 years. Specifically, it is a pin tumbler lock picking technique using a special bump key. Not that there is a universal bump key that can open all locks. Rather the bump key must correspond to the lock in question. Ollam shows that if one has such a key, many of these locks can quickly be compromised.

The book closes with an appendix that provides a list to the types of tools and toolkits necessary to pick locks.

After completing Practical Lock Picking, one should check out Keys to the Kingdom: Impressioning, Privilege Escalation, Bumping, and Other Key-Based Attacks Against Physical Locks, which is a great follow-on reference.

The main difference between the two is that the latter provides a lot of details on impressioning, which is a covert technique to create a usable key for a lock without picking the lock or taking it apart, in addition to some other types of more sophisticated attacks.

Chapter 2 of the book is on soft medium attacks and is particularly fascinating. Ollam writes of mold-and-cast attacks, which is a technique of opening a lock by covertly copying a legitimate key by making a cast of it in a soft material, then using it to imprint and fabricate a working key. Such a technique was used in real-life and detailed in the 1979 movie The First Great Train Robbery. Ollam writes how the movie was very true to the methods and technology available at that time, when the train robbery occurred in the 1850's.

The chapter walks the reader through the Quick-Key duplication kit method, in which most common key forms can be replicated with the kits molding and casting forms. The kit Ollam references is for the serious student of the craft, as it costs over $700- and can only be purchased from a firm in Germany.

Chapter 3 on master-keyed systems is particularly interesting as Ollam shows how a master key privilege escalation attack can often be easily done. Master-key systems make the logistics of granting access easier. But with that ease of use, comes the potential for abuse, as that single key will now have global access to the physical site.

Ollam writes that dedicated attackers who have the ability to spend a bit of time will often have the ability to compromise the code for the top master key (the one with the most access privileges) in nearly all master-keyed systems, even with only a small amount of preliminary information and a small number of blank keys.

In the same way that passwords often provide very little network security, Keys to the Kingdom shows that much of the security provided by physical locks is an illusion, given the ease at which these keys can be manipulated and copied.

Practical Lock Picking, Second Edition: A Physical Penetration Testers Training Guide is a great introduction to the topic of lock picking, while Keys to the Kingdom: Impressioning, Privilege Escalation, Bumping, and Other Key-Based Attacks Against Physical Locks takes that base knowledge and builds upon.

For those who perform physical penetration testing, these two books will prove to be invaluable. For those that simply want to understand what their locks are and aren't doing, they will find these to be a fascinating read.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase Practical Lock Picking, Second Edition: A Physical Penetration Testers Training Guide and Keys to the Kingdom: Impressioning, Privilege Escalation, Bumping, and Other Key-Based Attacks Against Physical Locks from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Book Reviews: Lockpicking Books From Deviant Ollam

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This isn't published by Packt... I've been had!
  • by omnichad (1198475) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @03:58PM (#42195245) Homepage

    How secure it in?

  • by MagdJTK (1275470) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:01PM (#42195259)

    "insecure physical locks will do little to keep the bad guys out"

    I think this is unfair. The lock on my front door has a 100% record of keeping bad guys out. That's because it's intended to deter casual thieves, not secret agents. Knowing what your security is protecting against and choosing the right level is important. And I could buy the best lock in the world and someone could just smash a window...

    • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:16PM (#42195409)
      Lisa, I'd like to buy your rock.
    • by Joehonkie (665142)
      Sadly, most most locks are easily opened by "bumping," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_bumping) which is something any casual thief can do, and which is discussed in one of the books. I wish it got more time in the review.
    • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:38PM (#42195673)

      The lock on my front door has a 100% record of keeping bad guys out.

      You don't know that, unless you've caught someone trying to get in. It's possible that the denominator of that percentage is zero. Maybe nobody ever tried to get in. In that case, we don't know that your locked door is any more effective than an unlocked door, a door with a fake lock painted on the front, a door with no lock at all...

    • by Paracelcus (151056) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:48PM (#42195821) Journal

      If you live in a condo complex/apartment building it's more than likely that the doorway to your unit/apartment is in a common (publicly accessible) hallway with Sheetrock walls that can be easily breached with a fist! Why have a heavy door with a Medico lock in a shitty wall? or between sidelights (flanking glass panels)? or an iron gate in front with ground level glass windows on the sides/sliding glass doors in back?

      Why have a pick proof padlock when a cordless 4" angle grinder with a carbide cut off wheel can go through a boron shackle in seconds?

      • Why have a heavy door with a Medico lock in a shitty wall? ...Why have a pick proof padlock when a cordless 4" angle grinder with a carbide cut off wheel can go through a boron shackle in seconds?

        Because it makes them feel safer, which in turn makes them happier. If your point is that they're equally likely to be compromised regardless, but they feel happier for the X number of months or years before it actually happens, then it still may be money well spent...

        • Precisely. that is the notion of 'security theatre' Where u have the 'feeling' of security, but no real security.
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Precisely. that is the notion of 'security theatre' Where u have the 'feeling' of security, but no real security.

            No, that's simply not true. The reason you have a feeling of security is because as a normal person you actually are pretty secure in most civilised countries.

            You're not going to be secure against a Navy SEAL team landing in helicopters, blowing your roof off and shooting you dead when you try to resist, but that really doesn't matter if you're not a terrorist or major criminal.

            • ok... i hear ya
            • "doesn't matter if you're not a terrorist or major criminal"

              And, of course, nobody's ever been shot dead in their own home by out of control cops, in full body armor "by mistake" or "he/she made a threatening movement", buck naked at home /wrong address, elderly/crippled/blind, in the back, holding a vegetable peeler/crutch/golf club, 4" serrated butter knife?

              The ONLY thing that can guarantee you safety is to give $100,000+ to your congress person/senator and to live in a RICH neighborhood!

      • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @05:27PM (#42196385)

        The same reason I use pick-resistant padlocks on storages: Someone getting the lock off will leave a signature.

        Yes, the angle grinder will knock a boron shackle off in seconds flat, there will be some sort of proof of forced entry, either because the lock is missing, or the fact that there are obvious cuts on the wall. When placing a claim with an insurance company, it is a LOT easier to get them to play when there are obvious signs that someone forced their way in, as opposed to a picked/bumped lock which in some cases gives zero signes of entry.

        Insurance companies are a lot more likely to pay when the adjuster comes by and sees chainsaw marks on a wall, as opposed to no signs of any forced entry whatsoever.

        Then, there is the criminal aspect. If a thief picks a lock and enters... they may score a trespass charge, but no B&E. Forcing their way in, that is a definite felony, assuming they ever get caught.

        So, I'll keep my high security locks. Yes, they are by-passable, but they give protection in another arena, the legal one.

        • by gknoy (899301)

          That is the best reason I've ever read for having nice-resistant locks when the rest of the house isn't completely secured: Don't make it hard to get in, make it hard to get in without leaving evidence of a break-in. Thanks!

      • If you live in a condo complex/apartment building it's more than likely that the doorway to your unit/apartment is in a common (publicly accessible) hallway with Sheetrock walls that can be easily breached with a fist!

        That has to be a US thing. Right?

        I would pay good money to see someone try to break through the walls in any of the apartment buildings I've lived in in Denmark and Sweden.

        I think the thinnest outer wall I've seen was at least 15 cm concrete.

        • by azalin (67640)
          You might want to try one of these: http://www.sunbeltrentals.com/equipment/equipment.aspx?itemid=0200120&catid=s512 [sunbeltrentals.com]
          • I never said you can't get through the walls. They aren't built out of a rare combination of unobtanium and thatllbehandium.

            I said I'd love to see someone try to punch through a typical Danish or Swedish wall.

          • by tehcyder (746570)
            Yeah, because a massive great fucking chainsaw is standard burglar equipment.

            In other news, burglars armed with enough plastic explosive can probably blow your whole apartment complex up.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unless you have a heavy steel door and frame, the lock is nothing more than decoration. A high dollar Medeco cylinder is pointless in a door you can open with a well placed kick :/

      If the door is deemed secure, they'll simply smash the window.

      Don't get me wrong, knowing how to pick a lock is useful in the right situations, but they are rare. Most of your common thugs aren't this sophisticated and they'll just brute force the door.

    • I live in Colorado. A few years back the state legislature passed what has become know as the "Make my day law." Without going into the legal specifics, anyone who enters your home without your permission can be legally shot (or taken out with any other weapon of choice). This includes someone wandering in through an unlocked door let alone picking a lock to enter through a locked door.

      Security layers:

      1) Door lock (keeps honest people honest and alive).
      2) Large dog (probably wouldn't hurt a flea but will

      • by mallyn (136041)
        You forgot: 0.5) No Trespassing Sign (keeps really honest people far away)
      • If you live in CO, bigger issue seems to be forest fires...no?
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Without going into the legal specifics, anyone who enters your home without your permission can be legally shot (or taken out with any other weapon of choice). This includes someone wandering in through an unlocked door

        Yes, because simple trespass deserves capital punishment. They should bring back hanging for stealing a loaf of bread.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:02PM (#42195269)

    Any place with any real security is going to have a LOT more than just key locks in place. It's the same layered security stuff that applies to network security. The userid/password is just ONE PART of the security. If someone isn't watching for abnormal behavior on the network too, you're already asking for trouble.

    • by localman57 (1340533) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:25PM (#42195497)
      This.

      Along with this is the question of whether you think of society in terms of wolves or sheep. Ask someone if it's a good idea to put your name and address on your keys. People who see society as sheep will say yes, so that your keys can be returned if you lose them. People who see wolves will understand that now the bad guys have not only your key, but the address of the house it goes to.

      I had a discussion with someone at my office about this with regard to their car. He had no problem leaving his keys in the ignition because it was a piece of shit car, and our small town is relatively sparcely populated with criminals. He didn't care if his car got stolen. I told him if i were a criminal, I'd leave his piece of shit car, and take his keys and the address from the registration in the glove compartment. Then i'd watch his house till he left for work the next day, and go in and help myself to whatever I wanted. He stopped leaving his keys in the car...
      • by greg1104 (461138)

        How does the victim here leave for work the next day if a thief has taken their keys? Even the biggest sheep should realize that when their keys have been stolen, they might need to change their locks at home.

        The right scary story here is that a thief finds your car unlocked, gets your home address (which is possible just from your tag), and immediately drives it to your house to loot it. Once that's done, they return the car to your office parking lot. Now there's not even a getaway vehicle required in

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          How does the victim here leave for work the next day if a thief has taken their keys? Even the biggest sheep should realize that when their keys have been stolen, they might need to change their locks at home.

          The right scary story here is that a thief finds your car unlocked, gets your home address (which is possible just from your tag), and immediately drives it to your house to loot it. Once that's done, they return the car to your office parking lot. Now there's not even a getaway vehicle required in the

  • I live in America and our constructions standards for homes is pretty abysmal. Frankly to the point that I don't see how even the best lock in going to keep someone out. The door frames are sadly weak and one good kick will open the front door on most homes. If you do get a security door/frame, the walls themselves are rather weak too. Many homes are 2x4 studs that are covered by drywall on the inside and in many cases foam board insulation covered by vinyl siding on the outside. You could probably cut thro
    • how would you advocate 'secure' homes be built?
      • how would you advocate 'secure' homes be built?

        Do you mean an actual secure building? Or something reasonably better than Styrofoam?

        • Something reasonably better than Styrofoam. I am talking about a residence.
          • Actual brick or stone would be a huge improvement. If you live in a earthquake prone area, or just don't want brick, then using roofing plywood over the insulation would at least require something more than a utility knife to get through. Obviously steel security door/frames. You can get security shutters for your windows if you don't want bars. It really depends on how much you want to spend or how far you want to go. You can have steel security mesh in the walls, bars on the windows, varying degrees of bu

            • good points. thank you!
            • by godel_56 (1287256)

              Probably some of the cheapest physical security measures are to keep bushes and plants trimmed so there is no where to hide while breaking in. Also eliminating dark areas with motion detector activated flood lights.

              . . . and gravel pathways leading up to and around the house so that they go crunch, crunch when someone walks on them.

            • by Larryish (1215510)

              Don't forget to plant some big holly bushes under all your first-floor windows.

              Preferably the kind with really pointy leaves, the sort of thing that your gardener absolutely hates.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Reinforced concrete with steel door and window frames, bonus being much longer structure life, fire and storm and termite resistance, and good thermal mass.

        If someone really wants in, they can carry a backpack oxy-acetylene torch and breach the metal bits quietly and fairly quickly, but might trigger a fire alarm if the structure is so equipped.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      This.

      From outside to inside:

      vinyl siding
      1/2 inch foam insulation
      1/2 inch OSB sheathing
      2x4 or occasionally 2x6 studs spaced 16 inches or 24 inches apart
      1/2 inch sheetrock

      Anyone could enter a typical USA-ian suburban house in about 60 seconds with a cordless sawzall.

  • That lock on my door was for *your* protection not mine.

    Say hello to Mr. 9 mm who IS here for my protection.

    • by MaerD (954222)

      Only if you live in a state with decent castle doctrine :) Otherwise, Mr. 9mm is just going to get you in trouble...

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        If I have intruders in the house, I'm already in trouble, 9mm in hand or not. I don't care where I am, I'd rather be armed with something more than my skivvies and a pillow if somebody is kicking down the bedroom door in the middle of the night. But the goal is to convince them it's time to leave and a 9 mm will sure help with that.

        In my state you can pretty much shoot intruders in your house with impunity. Most DA's are not going to prosecute you for shooting an armed intruder in your house even in the mo

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @04:59PM (#42195997) Journal

    "average person can't create and maintain secure passwords."

    This is utterly false. The average, even Dumb people CAN create and maintain secure passwords. The problem is, that what was once considered "secure" is 1) hard to remember meaningless letters, numbers and symbols (some of which can't be used on some systems), and 2) limited to 8 characters, and 3) easy for computers to crack using brute force.

    If we changed short hard to remember passwords with longer easier to remember passwords, they become much harder to brute force.

    Pa55W0rD! Hard to remember (did I use a o or O or 0)? was it d or D?), easy for computer
    RockylovesEmily3Ninjas (22 characters) is much easier to remember, and nearly impossible to brute force crack using today's technology.

    Your average person can easily think of a phrase that has meaning to them, that is long, secure and hard to crack, IF they are taught how to, and IF the systems allowed really long passwords. Changing how we think of passwords is key.

    • Maybe if you work in an office of 30 year old tech people. Trying supporting a remote office in the backwoods of Tennessee where the users don't understand technology. They CAN'T create and maintain secure passwords.
      • In Backwoods Tennessee, Log on = More wood on the fire. Log off = fire too hot. I see your point ;)

        • Thanks. This is not a trivial point. Many people in the tech world work in pristine offices with state of the art software/hardware. I have had to support remote offices recently where the people worked on Intel 486 computers running Windows 95. They had zero budgets for training, let alone security awareness. Strong security to them means Smith & Wesson. I would guess that the notion of strong passwords is a strange concept to at least 50% of the users out there.
          • 486s in remote offices? How did you support that. Almost nothing today will function properly on 486 (lemme guss, 256 MB ram, 12" CRT), and If I had to support it, it would be cheaper to replace the unit than send ANY tech out to fix anything wrong with it. Basically, I call BS.

            And I can do password strength training in about 5 minutes. I explain it two ways, how to secure a password and make it easy to remember (see above) and asking them to hand me their ATM card and Pin, "trust me". The last one gets the

            • No longer at that firm. but all their systems were old, all their software was old.... it was like being in a time warp. but my point is that a good part of this country, and all of the third-world, is running on old archaic systems.
            • by mlts (1038732) *

              I can see 486 machines (I'm guessing 4-16 MB of RAM) still being used in embedded controllers because ripping them out and replacing them with modern equipment would screw up the machinery and software timing. MS-DOS isn't pretty, but it can be used as a platform for realtime operations even though the OS isn't technically realtime.

              I can't judge, as I don't know the situation. I've been in situations where I've scoffed at older machines in use, then found that because of a certain embedded task, there was

              • Similarly...funny that so many people in the US wait in line for a new iPhone, Wii or similar. Most other countries, they are lucky to have a working computer. Heck, they are happy that the power is up. that is why so many people who get scammed are elderly and non-tech, since they are so out of date.
                • by Larryish (1215510)

                  I have 8 machines on the network at home.

                  7 of them are Pentium 4 or less.

                  1 is a 64-bit Athlon from 6 years ago.

                  They mostly run Linux, and the only thing they don't do is MKV.

                  • You must be a rich white guy :) Most of the world is not like that...
                    • by Larryish (1215510)

                      I did not buy those machines new. :) The only one that was bought new is the 6 years old dual-core. My wife bought it for her work before we married.

                      The desktop machines are Franken-boxes made from non-functioning units that I either bought at secondhand shops and yard sales or found on the side of the road on trash day and dumpster diving behind computer stores.

                      The laptops are bought non-working from eBay, and then repaired with used parts as needed.

                      They are connected with an old 3com 10/100 hub that I got

                    • >>>I put it together by being persistent and motivated and taking advantage of the opportunities that came to hand. More power to you. But other companies are not going to do the same. eBay may not bee seen as a resource.
                    • by Larryish (1215510)

                      Have you ever noticed the tendency of some people to complain about what they do not have, or whine about what they can not do?
                      - Those people flip burgers and wash cars (if they are lucky).

                      Have you ever noticed the tendency of other people to appreciate what what they DO have, and make the most of what they CAN do?
                      - Those people rise to the top of their respective heaps.

                      Any time you hear someone complaining about how a general race or class (possibly rich and white, as in the example you gave) is preventing

                    • very true, but does that change anything?
                    • ::::Also a lot of dumpster diving. most people won't due that. most wont use ebay for low prices... that means lot of old insecure machines.
                  • So, basically, you're wasting energy. I'm not impressed.

  • I have the 1st edition have read that through and it taught me a lot as a beginner. Is there enough new info in the 2nd edition that it worth the money to get it?
  • by tehcyder (746570)
    Was the review dictated in Japanese onto a Microsoft voice recognition system then passed through Google Translate without further proofreading?

    the reader should be open top open with great east

    Please.

  • The whole point is that lock picking is fun!
  • At first, I thought this article was about breaking the DRM on a books.

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

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