Tech

Slightly worrying news: burglars can 3D print your house keys

As much as we'd all like to imagine we're living in an 18th Century utopia where everyone knows everyone in their village, people look out for each other, and no one locks their doors at night, the reality - unless you believe people who live in Yorkshire - is really quite different.

Criminals lurk at every corner, and they're going to break it and steal your possessions unless you invest in some decent home security. Sadly, though, it seems the irrepressible march of technology has rendered the first line of defence - the humble lock and key - obsolete. Which is something of a problem.

The KeysForge system claims that, even if only given a basic smartphone resolution image, it can determine the structure of the lock and create a CAD file to be 3D printed. 

University of Colorado infosec assistant professor Eric Wustrow and two colleagues revealed their work at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg last month, saying: "We made an automatically generating 3D model program [which] takes a single picture of the keyway (lock) and produces a model in CAS (computer assisted design). You can then take that model and print it on a 3D printer or ship it off to Shapeways or whatever. The application will attempt to wrangle the image into black and white to distinguish the keyway. It then continues thresholding looking for the largest black blob. We found this was surprisingly effective".

So, essentially, a no-gooder can simply walk up to your front door, take a pic, print a key out, and then pop back when you're out and steal your goldfish.

They don't even need to get too close. The Register writes that "the application is useful in sophisticated and targeted attacks using high resolution lenses that were previously shown to be sufficient to allow keys to be replicated using photographs shot at significant distances."

So that's comforting. Best just sleep with that cricket bat nearby just in case.

(Image: Shutterstock)