MIT Students Show How To 3D Print Your Own Non-Duplicatable Keys For Easy Breaking And Entering

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If there’s one thing that sucks about breaking-and-entering it’s that it’s too difficult. Three enterprising young MIT students have figured out a way to make that easier, thanks to a 3D printing workaround to the sticky issue of making duplicates of so-called “non-duplicatable” keys. All you need is a flatbed scanner, an original Primus lock key made by Schlage (or just a picture of one) and some code the students revealed at last weekends DevCon hacking conference.

The students in question are David Lawrence, Eric Van Albert and Robert Johnson, and they aren’t actually evil, just intent on demonstrating the fact that reliance on older tech like these so-called high security keys might be in need of an update, given recent advances in tech like the advent of affordable, easy-to-access 3D printing tools.

These guys didn’t just manage to replicate the keys in software models, either – they actually submitted their designs to 3D printing services including Shapeways and i.Materiealise, and were mailed fully working copies made of different materials including titanium. With sharing sites like The Pirate Bay now supporting 3D models, you can easily imagine a scenario where someone uploads a key of their hated neighbor’s front door and points the mischief-loving crowd over at 4chan or somewhere at it for shenanigans. That sharing aspect is what makes this a little more threatening than finding someone you know with loose ethics and a hardware store who can make you a copy yourself.

3D printing is bound to result in upheaval and new concerns not only for manufacturers of cheap, easily replicated goods, but also for lawmakers and security professionals worldwide, especially with big money and talent like the new Stratasys/MakerBot 3D-printing giant trying to democratize the process.

For now, most people’s business, banks and hospitals are probably safe from this kind of attack, especially if 3D printing services start watching out for this kind of thing, as the vast majority of people don’t have at-home 3D printing powers yet. But worth noting some basic stand-bys in the security world are starting to look like jokes.

Oh, and don’t do crimes, people, even if they’re easy.

Image courtesy flickr user Linus Bohman.