Hacker Opens High Security Handcuffs With 3D Printed Keys
Posted on: 07/16/2012 09:32 PM

Handcuffs: We always see crafty protagonists escape them in Hollywood films by using something as simple as a toothpick and some chewing gum, but its really not that easy. Real high-security handcuffs are made to only be unlocked with a certain, precise key. A key that a German hacker has now figured out how to copy with ease by using a 3D printer and laser cutter...

Last Friday at the friendly Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York, a hacker and security consultant named “Ray” showed fellow hackers the coming problems for handcuff makers that want to restrict the distribution of the keys that open their cuffs. Ray produced plastic key copies he made quick and cheap with a laser-cutter and 3D printer. He was able to open handcuffs built by the German manufacture Bonowi and the English manufacturer Chubb. Obviously, both of these companies place high priority on the controlled distribution of their keys so only authorized buyers have them around.

Handcuff makers use a standardized key across all departments, so that a suspect can be locked up by one officer and released by another. Unlike a "normal" lock with a unique key, a copy of a standard key will open all of a certain manufacturer’s cuff. “Police need to know that every new handcuff they buy has a key that can be reproduced,” says Ray. “Until every handcuff has a different key, they can be copied.”

Obviously, there are cheap handcuffs out there that you can get keys for no problem (the ones at Spencer's don't count), but not Bonowi’s and Chubb’s. These keys can’t be bought from commercial vendors. Ray bought a Chubb key from eBay, where they show up now and then, and obtained the rarer Bonowi key through a source he declined to name (I'm sure the Germans wouldn't like knowing their key is out there). He then precisely measured them and created 3D CAD models, which he used to reproduce the keys. The keys were made from plexiglass with a friend’s simple laser cutter and in ABS plastic with a Repman 3D printer. As you may know about 3D printers, theres already many of them out there, and they are just getting cheaper.

Over the weekend, a lockpick vendor at the HOPE conference was selling dozens of the plexiglass Chubb keys for just $4. Ray says he plans to upload the CAD files for the Chubb key to the 3D-printing Web platform Thingiverse after the annual lockpicking conference (yes they have those) LockCon later this week. I guess this Ray character is out there to alert manufactures of the looming danger, but also screw them over while he does it. Nice guy.

But Ray argues this. “If someone is planning a prison or court escape, he can do it without our help,” says Ray. “We’re just making everyone aware, both the hackers and the police.”
The hacker also says he won’t post CAD models of the Bonowi or Clejuso models online, given that those keys are harder to obtain and providing blueprints  for their reproduction could in fact reduce their real-world security.

“In Holland we showed the police first,” Ray says. “They weren’t interested, and didn’t want to try it. So we demonstrated it anyway.”

“People who have a high value goal don’t mind the cost of using a higher cost method. Someone with a higher criminal goal doesn’t care if it takes one dollar or one hundred dollars to make this key,” he says. “Lock security was broken before. I’ve just made it easier.”

Printed from 3DGeeks.com (http://3dgeeks.com/articles_pages/hacker_opens_high_security_handcuffs_with_3d_printed_keys,1.html)