A photo is worth a thousand locksmiths

Oct. 30, 2008 at 3:42 PM
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SAN DIEGO, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- University of California-San Diego computer scientists say they have built a software program that can duplicate a key from just a photograph of it.

Student scientists led by Professor Stefan Savage said the bumps and valleys on a common house or office key represent a numeric code that completely describes how to open a particular lock. If a key doesn't encode that precise "bitting code," then it won't open the lock.

"We built our key duplication software system to show people that their keys are not inherently secret," said Savage. "Perhaps this was once a reasonable assumption, but advances in digital imaging and optics have made it easy to duplicate someone's keys from a distance without them even noticing."

Savage presented the research Thursday in Alexandria, Va., during the Association for Computing Machinery's annual Conference on Communications and Computer Security.

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