Every year, Toool NL has a competition that is only open to Toool NL members. A box of around 25 locks travels to all meetings where members can try to pick the locks. What makes this quite different from regular competitions, is that you can get to learn the lock. You are allowed to improve your best picking time throughout the year, figuring out what tool works best and in what order you need to set the pins.
We assembled 26 locks this year, ranging from used locks with no apparant brand name to factory new locks. The Best lock was donated by Christina, some other locks were donated by Eurokey and Locksystems in Eindhoven, thanks! Last years competition was pretty stiff, so we settled for what we believe are slightly easier locks, but time will tell if they really are.
After winning the lockpicking competition in 2014, the folks of Toool US were kind enough to sponsor a plane ticket to the event in de USA in 2015. Since I couldn’t use it, they said they would get me something else instead. That finally arrived in the form of a small suitcase labeled “Thank you for LockCon 2016”. Jos got a similar case. Thanks guys!
In it is a collection of Chinese locks. The first one (marked AFA) has two rows of dimples, 10 in total, and a wavy line. The lock is typical Chinese in that it comes with two keys that are used during construction, and several (in this case 5) user keys that are seperetely packaged. A special programming key is used to disable the construction keys and enable the user keys.
The second one does not seem to be reprogrammable. It comes with six keys and it is one of these Chinese locks that has a free spinning plug. The key connects the two parts of the plug, allowing the lock to operate.
The next lock is a padlock with a ‘smiley’ key profile. There are pins on both sides.
The next lock is a cilinder that again has two construction keys and a closed box that holds the (six) user keys. There is no reprogramming key: any user key will do. The construction keys have a slit at the end of the key, the user keys do not. This cilinder has a quite nice looking anti-breaking element, as has the free spinning lock. On the key we read “safety is derived from technology, Kailusidun”.
The last lock is a padlock made by Zhongxin. The key has two rods and the lock has two holes. The key does not rotate, it needs to be inserted after which a button on the lock can be pushed to unlock it. Removing the key locks the lock again.
All good things come to an end. And a good thing it surely was! The attendees, from all over the world, were very happy with the way LockCon turned out. We are already looking forward to next year!
I would like to thank Abus for sposoring the cylinders and blanks used for the impressioning championships. Then there were several companies who have sponsored prizes for the winners. M&C sponsored a whole bunch of their cylinders, but one really stood out: it is their new Condor cylinder, a cutaway version of it, but huge and fully functional! On the picture you see it, next to a regular M&C cylinder to give you an idea of the size. A real eye catcher! Sparrows Lockpicks sponsored coupons in worth of $800, Peterson gave away several of his famous picksets, Knaap Junior gave away polo shirts and both Tokoz and Barry Wels gave away some cylinders. Thanks!
All prize winners also received a plaque in the form of a working model of a pin stack, as per the design Kenny McElroy:
Day #2 almost blended into day #3, the last day of the event, filled with lectures and a competition, just like the previous days. Mr. Cherepov showed his safe lock that uses a matrix key. Decoder talked about how he created a tool to pick the DOM Diamant lock. Jaakko talked about his research on safe combination locks that could lead to such locks being opened in a few minutes.
After that, we had a lever lock competition. Last time, this was an impromptu thing, this year it was a real competition with a record number of participants. With only 2 minutes per lock in the first round, this was quickfire picking. Still, all the 10 groups had at least one person open a lock. The fastest 10 then tried to open six locks in the final. Only Lars succeeded in opening all six, winning him first prize.
The second day of LockCon is also over. In between all the talking, lockpicking, lock swapping, socializing and such, there was time for workshops and lectures. Jord gave a workshop lever lock picking, to prepare attendees for the championship tomorrow. After that, Peter Field discussed techniques used by lock manufacturers, with his wonderful pictures that show the working in fantastic detail. Next, Jan and Michael talked about their adventures milling EVVA 3KS keys. Eric came across a certain motorbike lock that needed opening and he decided to use a decoder for it of which he explained the working. The evening was ended by the premiere of “American Lockpicker”, a documentary about Schuyler Towne by Ben Hartman.
And we had also time for the lockpicking championships. A whopping 48 people competed. After 8 rounds, 6 people went through to the semi-finals and three of those played the final rounds. It turned out to be very exciting, with all three contestants opening all three locks within the 15 minutes they had for each lock. In the end, Christian was the fastest and thus became the winner. Here you see him in action:
The first day of LockCon has come to an end (at least, the official program). We had a talk by MH and Lucas about Chinese locks. What threats do they try to protect against? What new techniques are being used? Featuring the famous “free spinning lock” and the “chain-key lock”. Jord Knaap had some interesting stories about his work as a safe opener. He also showed some very new safe opening techniques. Deviant talked about keyed-alike locks in the USA. Who would have thought that when the policy (or taxi companies) order keyed-alike cars, they are actually all keyed alike? Jimmie and Cocolitos talked about newly designed picks that work really well on many types of locks. Ray disassembled some wireless locks and found some interesting vulnerabilities (including a 0day). Kenny learned us all about OpenSCAD. We will not go into too much detail. The event is invite-only for a reason ;-).
And we had also time for the impressioning championships. Abus kindly sponsored a bunch of Abus C83 cylinders and key blanks. After a first round, the first six went to the final, all having to open six new locks. The winner was Alexandre, Oli became second and Jord third.
Although many locks now feature electronic features, at the Security Essen fair, enough interesting fully mechanical locks could be seen. Some companies, like Iseo, have decided to focus solely on electronics at this event. Other companies show that new mechanical features can still be invented. Evva showcased the new 4KS which is a continuation of the 3KS. I found the ICS with Temporary Access Function more interesting from a mechanical standpoint. This cylinder comes with two user keys, of which one only works after putting the lock in temporary access mode with a change key. Mottura showed cylinders with a magnet in the key, to defeat lockpicking. DOM has a new cylinder that has keys that are even harder to duplicate. Abus showed a really neat new modular system that makes it very easy to change the length of any of their cylinders without using special tools, not even a screwdriver. A very simple and elegant solution that works really well.
The company Master showed an impressioning key for single row dimple locks, that uses a metal wire to impression in. It needs quite a bit of force to impression, hence a tool is used for that. In the video you can see it in action.
Although the desire to be at LockCon is normally not related with the official program, we do get some questions about what lectures will be given. So, we have made a (preliminary!) program. You can download it from here: lockcon2016.ics.
Apart from competitions in lockpicking, impressioning and lever lock picking, lots of socializing and generally having lots of fun, these lectures/workshops are planned:
Contemporary Chinese Locks by MH and Lucas Zhao
Bypassing electronic safe locks by Jord Knaap
Keyed-alike industrial standards by Deviant Ollam
OpenSCAD by Kenny McElroy
Surfing the wave! (a pin lock picking tools analysis) by Jimmie & Cocolitos
Elements of Cylinder Design by Peter Field
CNC Milling EVVA 3KS Keys and decoding the Masterkey System by Jan Morawek and Michael Weiner
AccuReader by Eric Scaillet
Why safe lock manipulation works by Jaakko Fagerlund
Cutaway locks are a nice way to understand the inner working of a lock. Many lock companies make factory cutaways of their models, but they can be hard to get. There are also companies making (pad)locks out of plastic to show the inner workings. And then there are locks made into cutaways by lock lovers.
Many exist, but the locks created by ‘Lock Cracker’ are in a separate class. Using a CNC milling machine he is able to cut away lots of material so you can see how the pins move, but also how the actual locking mechanism works. The most interesting are high security locks that have special features, such as the Ross Emhart lock that has interconnecting pins. Or his newest creation, the Mul-T-Lock MT5+. This lock uses pins within pins. The outer pins have been individually cut to show the inner pin within. Truly a masterpiece.
Things are moving along rather nicely. The registration has opened and a lot of the usual suspects have already registered. We are however still missing quite a lot of our regular visitors. Please do not forget to register, because we have a limited number of rooms. Just showing up on the day will probably mean you cannot get in anymore!
Lots of people are submitting talks. We love it! Keep them coming! People who have submitted a talk will be contacted later, when we have a preliminary schedule. There is room for lightning talks as well.
There is a logo for LockCon 2016 as you can see. This year, we have decided not to print shirts, to avoid a pile of left overs once LockCon is over. Anybody want to buy a shirt from 2014? This year we do have shirts, but they are printed on demand and you can order them yourselves. We offer these on a non profit basis via the shirt shop of our good friends at Hack42. You can order either a man’s T-shirt, women’s T-shirt, mini person T-shirt or a hoodie.
If you want to use a different (local/cheaper/DIY) printshop, feel free to use the logo above.