Criminals aren’t the only ones breaking in

At least that’s what lockpicker and network engineer Jeff Rosowski says.

Rosowski learned to lockpick to prepare for Mystery Challenge, a contest of puzzles, ciphers, tricks and codes at the annual DefCon hacker conference. Since, he has maintained his skills at monthly lockpicking nights at SYN Shop, a Henderson hackerspace he helped found in 2008.

The lockpickers at SYN Shop said lockpicking is a relaxing pastime. One practices while watching TV.

Basic lockpicking isn’t hard to learn. The simplest locks have only one pin. An average padlock might have four or five pins. Regardless, the principle is the same: Insert a tension wrench into the keyhole, then use a pick to press the pins up inside the lock.

Much of lockpicking is based on feel, but some is luck. Rosowski’s favorite locks to pick are padlocks.

“Brinks are generally good,” Rosowski said. “This one, I’ve opened exactly once.”

Lockpicking has real-life applications, too. Rosowski once used a pick to get into a storage shed for which he had lost the key. He doesn’t regularly pick his front door, however, as it could ruin the lock.

Despite the ease of picking locks, Rosowski says he doesn’t worry about someone picking his. As with most security protocols, he says, “locks keep honest people honest.” If people really want to break in, they can.

“There are certain things you do to make yourself safer,” Rosowski said. “You don’t parade all your luggage out to your car. You have to do things that don’t make you look like a target.”


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