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Unpickable Locks Do Not Exist.

Posted by Chris Dangerfield on

Unpickable locks do not exist!  

Now before anyone gets ants in their pants and decides to tell me they know of a lock that can’t be picked I have three words: Give it time! My proposition is this – if a lock can be opened correctly, it can be opened incorrectly. That is, if there’s a key, a card, a combination, etc for a lock, then there’s a pick, a bypass, a whatever for that lock. Locks are not perfect – there’s always vulnerabilities that can be exploited, because basically - every lock is designed to be opened.

In my BLOG ‘You Can Pick EVERY Lock’ I mentioned Marc Tobias’ fantastic book 'Open in 30 Seconds', where he analyzed, studied, and finally worked out how to pick the Medeco Bi-Axial, a lock that had so many security features it was widely considered one of the most secure locks in America. Marc not only picked this lock, but worked out a variety of different techniques to open it, exploiting the many vulnerabilities built into the lock. My point is this: Designing an object to keep people out, while making it easy for the ‘right’ person, with the right key, to get in, is always already compromised; a locking mechanism is also an opening mechanism.

And to be sure there have been many claims to ‘unpickability’. Obviously companies will use this as marketing. A while back I saw the ‘Forever Lock’ appear all over the internet, with videos on You Tube explaining how you couldn’t pick it. I’m not sure how good such marketing is because it was only a week or two later that many videos of people picking the (not so) Forever Lock appeared.

The concealed keyway of the Forever Lock.


The bottom line is this: A lock is designed to lock, but it is also designed to open. And if a key, a code, a card etc can make it open, those things can be reproduced, mimicked, hacked, blagged, etc! Lock picking is basically the art of pretending to be the right key, whatever form that may take.

In the UK we have a thing called the British Kitemark.  The official website of this mark says…

“A BSI Kitemark gives a product or service immediate status – hard earned through rigorous tests at a BSI centre of excellence, or through rigorous assessments.”

These ‘rigorous assessments’ typically have a time limit. Like is a lock can take 3 minutes of attack, it gets a Kitemark. But to give you an idea of how useless these things are (with locks at least) let’s look at their new TS007 3 Star rating – which says will withstand every attack. And yet the  ABS TS007 3 Star Diamond Grade – will last about 10 seconds, with the special tool designed for that lock just weeks after its release. There's countless videos of these locks being single pin picked on YouTube - and while slightly more resilient than most - can still be opened without a key in a matter of minutes. 

In the opening paragraph I gave you three words about so called unpickable locks, ‘Give it time’, which brings me nicely to the line that sums this all up. There’s a saying among lock pickers: “There’s no such thing as an unpickable lock, just locks that haven’t been picked yet.” And that’s pretty much all you need to know.

Chris Dangerfield

(NOTE: Remember - thieves will often be looking at getting in quickly - I have made these comments regarding the legal practice of lock picking for pleasure. A lock with a Kitemark rating will typically offer a better deterrent than one without as it adds time to the proceedings, the last thing a thief wants.)

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