Archive for September, 2007

Wise men said: Back to paper ballots in the Netherlands

Friday, September 28th, 2007

It took them eight months, but yesterday a government appointed comity came out with their report, advising the Dutch government about the future of e-voting.

Engadget on the Dutch e-voting situation

From scratch they have designed a completely new way of transparent e-voting, one that will leave a verifiable paper trail. From what we see now a decent system. A nice animation about how the new system is going to look like can be found here (or youtube).

It will take a couple of years to develop such a system, and in the meantime voting in the Netherlands will be done on paper ballots.

Of course this was big news in the Netherlands (youtube video’s RTL4 and NOS). For more news in English about this: Slashdot and Engadget wrote about it and for news in German visit the CCC homepage.

Newsparkling toools

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

I had noticed the site of newsparkling tools in Singapore some time ago, but have just been too busy to look into it and order anything.

video of mul-t-lock pick by

But ever since someone demonstrated me their nifty tool to open some models of Mul-T-lock locks I am going to place a big order soon!

So first of all there are picktools for mul-t-locks, but also tools to pick disc locks, cut-away locks and even a special bump-key set for dimple locks.

In other words: interesting stuff … I will keep you posted on what I order and if it is as good as it looks like.

I was very pleased to be able to play with one of their mul-t-lock picks for 30 minutes and shoot some video (youtube or quicktime 22 MB) of it. Unfortunately there were only two locks available, to test this tool on. I was told one of the locks was a brand new and certified one, the other was a cut-away model. And both could be opened relatively easy.

And I am not sure how long this tool will be effective. What I have learned about the Mul-T-lock company (and its engineers) is that they are continuously improving their product. So a trick that might work on a lock produced yesterday, will not work on a lock that is produced tomorrow. And that is the way it should be. You can not prevent people finding exploits to your locks, but you can do all you can to prevent the exploit to work on future locks.

Time will tell ….

* Update 27/09/2007: Time did tell, and fast!

Yaron from Israel wrote in the comments that the tool seems to work well ‘in the field’ and that already burglars have been arrested in possession of this tool. Yaron was kind enough to scan the newspaper article (in Hebrew) and translate it in English. Thanks Yaron!

All you ever wanted to know about Comb Picks …

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Yesterday I visited the German impression Championships in Cologne (Germany). But more about that later. For now I just am proud to be able to show you what Julian Hardt wants to share with you….

Julian worked on ‘comb picks’ for some time and created some pretty impressive ones….

Click for Comb pick video

For those new in the field: A comb pick is more a bypass tool then it is a pick. The whole idea of this tool is to lift the pins and lift them all the way up, out of the plug. If all pins are cramped up in the housing of the lock, there is nothing blocking the sheerline and the plug can rotate.

Besides creating comb picks for some of the more populair padlocks like Viro and Abus, he also made a comb pick for the Abus XP1 family. As some of you might know, the XP1 has a very difficult keyway. The pins are more or less trapped in the key profile, and if you want to pick it you have to approach them from the side. A very tricky and delicate lock. But Julian’s comb pick also is a piece of art!

Julian was honest enough to mention the comb did not seem to work on all models he tried. Sometimes the length of the top pin plus the bottom pin and the spring is just longer then the canal in the house of the lock. Still I really like the design and skills involved to make it…

I am sure the visitors of this humble weblog will enjoy this video (YouTube) showing you all about Julian’s comb picks (Quicktime video 45 MB).

Personally I am just very curious how long it will take the lock-tool industry to copy this concept and come out with a set of comb picks. I am putting my money on less then six months before the first ones show up on the market, maybe even sooner ….

Place your bets (in the comments) ….

Ed Tickel: a true blackbag veteran …

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Steffen is having some sort of blog too. On the internal pages of he writes nice German articles that are worth the read.

And trough a TV item on discovery channel he found out what ‘blackbag’ truly means. I must admit, the TV item he found is pretty neat! It shows a gentleman by the name of Mr. Ed Tickel, an FBI legend when it comes to opening locks. And in the video he demonstrates his favorite opening technique: impressioning!

Ed Tickel

And for those of you who wonder how NDE (non destructive entry) operators spend time on a lock in a busy street: He answers this in an amazing story on how he made a key to a lock while he was hiding in a big refrigerator box. Thinking about it, this makes a lot of sense. The hole in the box should not even be bigger then a hand, and if you are afraid evil mobsters will shoot trough the box, you can even have it armour plated….

One other retired FBI agent was a so called ‘wire man’. He was responsible for planting the microphones and camera’s. A job that nowadays would include the installation of keyloggers and knowledge on how to back up other peoples hard drives…

For more information, just google for ‘Operation Strawman’. Unfortunately there is not much background info I could find about Mr. Ed Tickle. And that is too bad because I would not mind inviting him as a speaker for the Dutch Open lockpick championships on 23/24/25 November 2007….

The full video with the interview can be found here (68 MB .AVI)

Dual safe cracking weekend …

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

Yesterday I finally collected my MacBook pro. While I am still busy installing software on it, I could not resist to try out the video editing software. First attempt can be found here (Quicktime 15 MB).

safe cracking weekend

And a couple of weeks ago Paul Crouwel and Rob Zomer organized a safe cracking weekend. People from all over the globe gathered at this ‘invitation only’ party to share knowledge on the holy grail of safe cracking. Some pretty serious safes were cracked by the attendees (like a GJ Arnheim, Rosengrens European, LIPS VS 80, Victor (build in +- 1910) a LIPS VAGO and so on).

Paul used this weekend to try out some of his new tools. Amongst them were some strongarm hardplate drill-bits, a mini drill rig that allows you to apply perfect drill tension and an ITL2000 safe combination dialing robot.

Especially the mini drill rig and strongarm drill bits came out real well. Before they got the drill rig, a more primitive (yet effective!) method of applying pressure to a drill was used.

One other tool that was used was a thermic lance. Pretty spectacular to see (and smell) in real life. (click on image to see quicktime video 18 MB, or here for youtube)

thermic lance cutting trough safe armoured material

A lot of interesting discoveries were made over the weekend and we are currently working on an article for the Savta magazine to list some of them.

For us the biggest surprise was to find one of the safes still was filled with jewelry! Fortunately the owner of the safe was present and was happy to receive his goods back undamaged.

Just a few kilometers away from our party some other safe owner was much more unhappy. A jewelry shop in a black market hall was burglarized, and some extreme brute force was used. The thieves must have used a pretty hefty grinding wheel (diamond blade?) to cut a hole in the side of the safe. The sad thing was no insurance company could be found to insure the poor entrepreneur because of the location of the market. And the security guards responsible for the place received multiple alarm calls but never bothered to thoroughly investigate why the silent alarm kept going off. Very fishy if you ask me …

A news item (including Rob Zomer’s expertise) can be found here (Quicktime 15 MB) or on youtube.

It is a good thing all 15 of the ‘safe cracking weekend’ attendees have a solid alibi…

P.s. I am curious if you think quicktime video is prefered over my old Windows Media files …