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High Security Handcuffs Opened With 3D-Printed and Laser-Cut Keys 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-stay-on-the-watch-list dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "In a workshop Friday at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York, a German hacker and security consultant who goes by the name 'Ray' showed that he could open high-security handcuffs from manufacturers Chubb and Bonowi with plastic copies of keys that he cheaply produced with a laser-cutter and a 3D printer. Both companies attempt to control the distribution of their keys to keep them exclusively in the hands of authorized buyers such as law enforcement. Lasercut plexiglass versions of the Chubb key, which opens handcuffs like the ones used in passenger airline restraints, were selling for $4 at the conference. Ray plans to post the CAD file for the key on the 3D printing site Thingiverse after LockCon later this week."
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High Security Handcuffs Opened With 3D-Printed and Laser-Cut Keys

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  • Mcgyver (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:03PM (#40667989)

    Mcgyver used a bar of soap and a file to copy keys. Color me unimpressed.

  • Materials might be cheap, but if it requires both a laser cutter and a 3d printer, that's not exactly what I'd call cheap to produce.
  • see (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:10PM (#40668027)

    See, that's why they should simply use magical warding and locking spells. Then anyone trying to escape would have to get a really lucky die roll to overcome the caster level of the original lock spell.

  • are all of their keys identical?
    • by Zaelath (2588189)

      It's pretty standard to have identical cuff keys... the guard opening them after you go into the cell is unlikely to be the arresting officer that put them on you.

      I guess the issue here is they at least need something like a magnetic component to be somewhat secure, but I imagine there's actually very little you can do to make a lock that's immune to being defeated if you have infinite prep time.

    • Re:identical? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:20PM (#40668091)

      Did you read the article? All handcuff keys for a certain brand are identical. That is to allow one officer to handcuff a suspect and any other officer to remove the cuffs. The issue is that the arresting officer may not be anywhere around when the suspect needs to be uncuffed as the suspect may have been passed on for transport. This is the way handcuff keys work. Manufacturers are now trying to restrict the possession of keys by being selective to whom they sell. The printer/laser cutter method of making keys now makes this effort useless.

      • Seemed like a dumb strategy anyway - a combination of artificial scarcity and security-by-obscurity. It isn't like the keys look particularly complex. In the 'olden days' somebody could have just created a mold and cast them or machined a copy. The laser cutter / 3D printer is just the modern twist.

        A pair of bolt cutters also works in a pinch.

        • Re:identical? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:56PM (#40668317)

          No matter how complex the key bolt cutters usually work but it is rather difficult to conceal a set of bolt cutters big enough to do the job on one's person and bolt cutters that large are not all that common. Hand cuff components are made of hardened steel and a small set will not work.

          Hand cuffs are and never have been completely secure. They are more secure than the cuffs that have been around for years as those keys are very common now but they are less secure than hoped.

          There used to be one key that would open every handcuff in current use. Now there are at least three different ones. Even this makes things more secure as the suspect has to have at least three keys to ensure escape. Three keys are much more difficult to conceal than one. Officers can easily carry three keys on their key ring. It is not about making escape impossible; just more difficult.

          • by Solandri (704621)

            No matter how complex the key bolt cutters usually work but it is rather difficult to conceal a set of bolt cutters big enough to do the job on one's person and bolt cutters that large are not all that common. Hand cuff components are made of hardened steel and a small set will not work.

            Nonsense. Bolt cutters are just large because they use a simple lever to generate the force needed to cut through hardened steel. You could replace them with a small box with a hand crank and multiplier worm gear attached

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              A saw as you suggest would be a few cubic inches in volume and would easily be found in a pat down. Have you heard of anyone cutting handcuffs with such a device? Perhaps it is because concealing such a device would be impossible. Even though it is smaller than 18" bolt cutters it is still much larger than a key.

            • a hand crank and multiplier worm gear

              The teeth of the worm gear would need to be quite big to avoid breaking off by the force needed. Which implies the whole thing would need to be big. Too big to conceal.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:00PM (#40668333)

        Handcuffs are just a quick and easy way of ensuring someone can't cause too much trouble. When your hands are held behind your back, you can't make much mischief in general. They aren't intended to be something to hold someone securely for long periods. Just to temporarily restrain someone for transport.

        As such it isn't like the keying system has to be top notch. It is far more important that they are easy to unlock than that they are ultra-secure.

        For that matter at times the police will just use what are more or less large zip-ties. Plastic flexi-cuffs are easy and cheap to use in a riot situation. They aren't very secure, they can be easily cut off and indeed that is what the police themselves do, but you can cheaply have a bunch of them if needed.

    • by donaldm (919619)

      are all of their keys identical?

      Considering the article is about cracking high security handcuffs the easiest way of getting out them is some C4 or just a plain sharp knife assuming you don't really care about the person you are trying to get out of the handcuffs :)

      Actually the sharp knife is the cheapest method but the cost of hand reattachment surgery won't be cheap unless you are one of those people who have an eye-patch have a long haired white cat :)

  • LockCon? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:13PM (#40668051)

    The fact that he managed to make a key for these doesn't surprise me at all.

    The fact that there is a LockCon on the other hand.....

  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:15PM (#40668073) Homepage

    Now lets say this type of key creation is outlawed. .

    Create handcuff keys
    Be put in handcuffs
    Use Key. Escape

    It will be like bribing Law enforcement with counterfeit cash

  • by erice (13380) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:25PM (#40668121) Homepage

    The thing about having one's hands in cuffs is that it is pretty difficult to unlock the handcuffs even you if had and could reach the key. Presumably, the first result is wide spread key availability is that your pockets are searched at the time the cuffs go on.

    For the laser cut keys to really work, you need an accomplice and to be essentially unguarded.

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:04PM (#40668355)

      it is pretty difficult to unlock the handcuffs even you if had and could reach the key

      Difficult is not impossible and with enough practice difficult becomes easy.

      Keys can be in the mouth, swallowed, in a seam, in a concealed compartment in a belt loop, etc. There are many places to carry a key that will get by most searches. There was one instance where a man has a pouch surgically installed in his cheek just big enough to hold a handcuff key. Many "escape artists" conceal keys on their person for their acts and these keys are not found by the spectators, sometimes police officers, who search them.

      So no, an accomplice is not necessary.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        If you use rigid cuffs, with hands behind the back, and palms facing away from each other,
        escaping from handcuffs requires either a contortionist or someone willing/able to dislocate joints.

        Rigid cuffs make life a lot harder for anyone trying to get out of cuffs.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Or a partner in crime.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          If you use rigid cuffs, with hands behind the back, and palms facing away from each other,escaping from handcuffs requires either a contortionist or someone willing/able to dislocate joints.

          I have a rotator cuff injury and pinched nerves in my right arm. My hands will not come together back to back behind me. In fact I would loose blood supply to my arm in that position. Any officer who tried that would be guilty of abuse. How would the officer tell if I am lying or telling the truth? He would have to take my word for it. Then there are people so big that the above configuration can not be used. Rigid cuffs are a simple solution that does not always work considering how complex the issue is.

          • Simple: make the high-security cuffs with a bar inbetween. This bar should keep the hands far enough apart that the bad guy can't reach the locks, wich are in the middle of the bar. Then the guy needs to be flexible in order to get the locks in front of him so he can open it with the key in between his teeth. If the cops didn't notice he was doing that they don't deserve the job.
  • indefinite detention in 3...2...

  • more cops are better then high tech locks any ways with high tech locks you just go after the weak points.

  • Who holds the design and patent rights to the keys? I am betting that they are legally protected in some way.

    There is only one set of legitimate buyers for these handcuffs.

    Which means that being caught with one of these copycat keys in your possession is going to be hell of a thing to explain to an unsympathetic and skeptical cop,

    • An unsympathetic and skeptical cop who has no legal basis for asking for an explanation.

      It isn't illegal to be in possession of a key.

      • An unsympathetic and skeptical cop who has no legal basis for asking for an explanation.

        It isn't illegal to be in possession of a key.

        Not at all, it'd just be illegal to use it to attempt escape from a lawful arrest. Prisons are filled with dumb people.

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "Not at all, it'd just be illegal to use it to attempt escape from a lawful arrest."

          Perhaps we'll get lucky and they'll sue Thingieverse for copyright violation after the design is posted.
          It has to happen sooner or later.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        It isn't illegal to be in possession of a key.

        Yet.

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:17PM (#40668435)

      Who holds the design and patent rights to the keys?

      Design and patent rights are a civil matter and not a criminal matter. Until there is a law passed that criminalizes the possession of handcuff keys there is nothing the police can do.

      There is only one set of legitimate buyers for these handcuffs.

      There are actually at least five sets and possibly more; police, prison guards, court house guards , private security and bounty hunters. Basically anyone who has a legitimate reason for detaining someone else.

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:43PM (#40668239)

    Interesting the article mentions how those plastic keys are easy to take through airport security. As if it's easier than metal keys. I've routinely taken a keyring with about a dozen keys on planes, could contain any key, never did they really inspect which keys (it just had to go through the scanner). I'm sure just adding a metal handcuff key to that bunch would let me through just as easily. Maybe even easier than with a plastic key, as metal keys are more common.

    • Re:Airline security? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PPH (736903) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:53PM (#40668295)

      I can confirm this. I've had a common police handcuff key on my keyring for years* and I've never had it singled out at any security checkpoint. The keys go in the briefcase with a bunch of other crap where they might even be difficult to identify as keys.

      *Kinky ex girlfriend. I figured I'd better stash a few keys in convenient places in case she wandered off at an inappropriate moment.

    • It's not just about airport security, but also courthouse security and places where they might actually care about handcuff keys, like jails where you visit someone that's doing hard time. Airport security is not the best example you could choose, but "places that use a metal detector" would have a hard time detecting these keys.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Good one. I have no experience with those: how about checks on your regular metal keys? Almost everybody carries a bundle of keys around (home, office, bicycle, car, whatnot), often invisibly packed in a small purse. Will they check whether you carry any metal handcuff keys in between your normal keys? Or, like at the airport, put it through a separate scanner where they only look for weapons and so?

  • by joeflies (529536) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:54PM (#40668297)

    the goal of a handcuff is to restrain a person, namely a person who isn't likely to have a copy of the key handy, nor a 3d printer. And the detained person will not likely be given access to people who have keys or printers either.

    It doesn't matter if the keys can be made easily, really, or even if it's the same key used in all the locks. THe basic point is that a handcuffed person would not be able to get themselves out without the tool.

    Perhaps a lot is being made because it's a "high tech lock". Well you can take a low tech lock, such as a chain linked to a concrete block, and even though you could easily get out with a set of boltcutters, it's just as impossible to free yourself without access to the tools.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:14PM (#40668419)

      It isn't about having a 3D printer handy after you are cuffed. It is about challenging the idea of physical security through obscurity. Handcuffs rely on a "shared secret" of the physical key, that's why the manufacturers go to great lengths to control distribution of those keys. But 3D printers make it practical to turn that physical key into data, and at that point all of the problems of security through obscurity of information start to apply to a formerly physical security model.

      In other words, all it takes is for one person to "scan" a key and upload it to the internet and now it is orders of magnitude more likely that someone will have a copy of the key on their person, perhaps disguised as jewlery or just in stuck in their pockets, that will let themselves unlock their cuffs while sitting in the back of a police car.

  • Ray plans to post the CAD file for the key on the 3D printing site Thingiverse after LockCon later this week."

    If the lock maker is anything like other lock makers, it's likely to result in them sending in the lawyers and somehow contriving DMCA-takedown notices

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Ray plans to post the CAD file for the key on the 3D printing site Thingiverse after LockCon later this week."

      If the lock maker is anything like other lock makers, it's likely to result in them sending in the lawyers and somehow contriving DMCA-takedown notices

      Yes, but... how DMCA applies in this case? The manufacturer never made the 3D plans available, so there's nothing "copyrightable" to copy.
      The current CAD plans were reverse engineered but... not after something digital (thus subject to the copyright laws and DigitalMCA) but using a physical artifact. Can a mass produced artifact - more than that, it is an accessory to something, not the something in itself - be subject to copyright laws?

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Yes, but... how DMCA applies in this case? The manufacturer never made the 3D plans available, so there's nothing "copyrightable" to copy.

        They never made plans available to the public, that doesn't mean there are no 3D plans; unpublished works still copyright, possibly even if you can derive the plans by looking at the physical object.

        Can a mass produced artifact - more than that, it is an accessory to something, not the something in itself - be subject to copyright laws?

        Lock makers usually use paten

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Yes, but... how DMCA applies in this case? The manufacturer never made the 3D plans available, so there's nothing "copyrightable" to copy.

          They never made plans available to the public, that doesn't mean there are no 3D plans; unpublished works still copyright, possibly even if you can derive the plans by looking at the physical object.

          Seems improbable to obtain copyright for something that you did not publish or did not register a copyrightable work (otherwise, I would be able to claim that I wrote ... whatever ... before the original author). The only question is: would expressing a blue-print in tangible object equates to "publishing the blue-print"?

          There seem to be even exceptions to the copyright for "useful articles" [wikipedia.org] - which seem to indicate that the utilitarian/functional aspects of an article are not copyrightable (at least this i

  • standard cuffs that use the same key you can get anywhere.

    Good to keep a copy on your keyring... just in case.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:49PM (#40668627)
    A lock pick is cheaper (usually free)
    There are plenty of youtube videos teaching how to make your own.
    I've yet to find a lock that I couldn't pick with one... that includes every lock in my house and even my car.
    It's really not that hard when you get used to it.
    • These cuffs are in fact a bit harder to pick the lock from. Especially when cuffed yourself, it would probably take you too long to pick the lock to remain undetected and your pick taken from you.

      There are quite a few more modern lock designs that require specialist tools to unlock without a key. Those tools usually cost a multitude of a key and are hard to buy, even from chinese clone sites. One of those locks is the "abloy classic". Another lock that is hard to pick without special tools is the lock syste

    • Read about Meadco lock cylinders. They are common and you cannot "pick" them. You also can't "pick" VW/Audi BMW or Mercedes style key cylinders or most automotive keys for that matter... but for most of those things you mention, a rock is cheaper, quicker and more effective.

      • For locks that I don't care about I have always preferred the large slotted screw driver hammered through the key slot, just attach a large vice grip pliers to the shaft of the screw driver from some leverage. Granted the lock will never work again but you can open it.
  • For why the government needs to DCMA physical objects in addition to media. He does the world no good with his stunt. This will come back and bite us in a year or two.
  • From Summary:

    Ray plans to post the CAD file for the key on the 3D printing site Thingiverse after LockCon later this week.

    From Article:

    Even so, Ray 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.

    WTF, Sparrowvsrevolution?

  • The surprising thing is that a flat key will work. Laser cutters are 2D devices; they do a great job cutting flat sheets, but you can't make 3D objects with them. The process is fast and cheap, though. Stereolithography takes forever.

    I'm surprised that laser-cut acrylic would work. Thin acrylic isn't very strong. Polycarbonate ("Lexan") doesn't cut well with CO2 lasers. Acetyl ("Delrin") is probably the best choice. It's kind of expensive, but a key isn't very big.

    • Indeed. A few years ago, the same trick was used against Dutch police handcuffs. They were also flat, and the manufacturer promised to make the keys more difficult. Apparently, few people learned from that trick.
  • A plastic copy of a key is still a key.

    This is news how?

    "Durrr. Hey look Cleetus this here plastic key works just like a key."

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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