Dutch Open Competition 2023

September 17th, 2023

In an effort to bring people up to speed on the Dutch Open Competitions at LockCon, we are publishing the competition rules. The PDF below are rules for the Lockpicking, Impressioning and Lever lockpicking competition, exported from the ‘How to run LockCon’ document written by Walter in 2016.

We have a lockpicking, impressioning, disk detainer, and Lockpicking Pentathlon. The Pentathlon has five opening techniques which includes picking, lever lockpicking, car locks and much more.

The organizers will put up flip overs, on which you can register yourself for the competition.
Please be on time when the competition starts. We aim to have Impressioning on Friday afternoon, Lockpicking on Saturday afternoon, and the Pentathlon on Sunday.

Lockpicking

For LockCon 2023 we will run the lockpicking competition with locks commonly found in the Netherlands, in addition to locks kindly sponsored by Zeefeene and Nigel from Toool UK.

  • The locks are pickable with normal lockpicks, of which we do not have a restriction for custom or commercial.
  • We aim to have locks without a secondary locking system, I.e. sidebar.
  • Applying torque on the tailpiece instead of using a tension wrench is allowed.

The time per round is adjusted for the difficulty of the lock, usually 5/10/15 minutes per round.

Impressioning

The Impressioning competition will be on Abus C83 locks, kindly sponsored by Abus. The first round will be an hour, and the A and B finals are planned to be six rounds of 15 minutes each.

In addition to the rules below, we added several small nuances to the rules:

  • The tailpiece of the lock needs to be unobstructed. As in, no torque can be applied from the tailpiece. Please take care to mount the lock properly, and not pinch the tailpiece.
  • Any newly invented tool or technique can only be used in the competition after explicit permission of the Judges.

Please see the Dutch Open Impressioning Championship 2022 report for more information on the competition. https://blackbag.toool.nl/?p=4222

Disk detainer competition

We will have a disk detainer lockpicking competition for the first time. For which, Sparrows kindly sponsored five of their disk detainer lockpicks. The competition will run throughout the event as a self timed competition.

  • There will be three to five locks, from easy to fairly difficult.
  • The supplied Sparrows DD tools are augmented with a 3D printed spacer designed by Thice. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5246593/files
  • Locks are not guaranteed to be front tensioning, but can all be opened with the tools provided.
  • Please keep the combinations a secret for others competing.
  • The tools are not fragile, but shouldn’t be abused either. We have some spares, and come to the organizers if the tools are defective.

For people that are either new to disk detainers or don’t like competing, there will be tools and locks available to learn the technique, as well as workshops in picking high security disk detainers. We will also bring locks with much higher difficulty, starting at Abus plus with butterfly disks, to Tokoz Pro. Picking these high-end locks is left as an exercise to the attendees. (Maybe bring your own tools for these.)

Pentathlon

Our friends from Parmakey in Italy will host a pentathlon competition this year. It will include five lock opening techniques of the following list:

  • Lockpicking pin tumbler: Bring your own tools
  • Lockpicking dimple: Bring your own tools
  • Impressioning: Bring your own tools
  • Lockpicking lever locks: Tools are supplied
  • Lockpicking car locks: Tools are supplied

The competition can only host a small group of participants, and will be fun to watch for everyone else.

Appendix from ‘How to run LockCon’ by Walter, 2016

Report: Dutch Open Impressioning Championship 2022

September 17th, 2023

Jan-Willem wrote a report in the Dutch Open championship in Impressioning, held at LockCon 2022.
The report talks about the parts of the competition which are rarely discussed, like the bitting of the locks and the opening count of each lock. Hopefully this report is of use for anyone into competitive impressioning.

Our appreciation go to Abus for their generosity of sponsoring the competition locks and blanks.
Abus has sent us the locks for LockCon 2023, as well. Which is on Friday 13th of October.

Cutaways, and lever locks

September 11th, 2023

When we teach lockpicking we usually revert to schematics of locks, and different models for demonstrating the functionality of locks. Usually required as the core functionality is well hidden, and not often observable in action. Multiple skilled machinists have made cutaway locks for the purpose of demonstrating the inner workings of real locks.

At one cutaway themed evening, we had over 50 unique cutaways on the table. From all brands and mechanisms. Some of which even the pins themselves were cutaway.

On an evening with impressioning, a member asked for some blanks to practice with. The call was answered by the keys below. Sadly, it’ll be very hard to find a corresponding lock for the key blanks, as in Europe we have thousands of unique keyways. Even though they all look a-like.

On another evening, we delved deep in lever locks, from your classic Chubb locks to high-end safes. A boroscope was brought as to try to decode some locks by belly reading the levers. E.g. to observe the scratches on the levers and determining the length of the butting making the scratches.

The WE30C also made its appearance, one night. The lock was used on pay phones, and is remarkably hard to lockpick due to the lever blocking system, shown in the top right. As torque is applied, the blocking system engages with the levers, making all levers bind up before the lever tests the gate.

Registration for LockCon 2023 is open!

July 22nd, 2023

Dear friends,


We are delighted to announce that registration for LockCon 2023 is open! The conference will be held from the 12th of October to the 15th of October at the WestCord Hotel de Veluwe in Garderen, The Netherlands.

The Event

We will welcome registered attendees from Thursday afternoon (check-in 15:00 hr) with a meet and greet in the bar. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we will have talks, workshops, competitions, and social events. And, of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to pick locks. We will have to vacate the hotel again on Sunday evening.

Invitation

LockCon is an event for the locksport community. Everyone with a passion for locksport is welcome, no matter the locksport group you are with. We work with the principle of friends, and friends of friends. If your friends are going to LockCon, ask them to vouch for you.

We have also reserved seats for people we have never met before. If you think you have something to contribute, or just are a very enthusiastic lockpicker who does not have the right connections yet, please contact us through the usual channels.

Hotel

As you may have seen, this year we will reside in a Hotel. This means there will be no dorm rooms, the maximum number of people sharing a room will be 4, and you will be able to suggest preferred roommates. As always, we have a limited amount of beds, so please complete the registration process early.  The price for the entire weekend will be €360 per person, and will include LockCon 2023, breakfast and lunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, dinner on Friday and Saturday, and lots of fun!

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

LockCon Team

Thursday October 12th 15:00 until Sunday October 15th early evening.

WestCord Hotel de Veluwe | Oud Millingenseweg 62 | 3886MJ Garderen | The Netherlands

https://westcordhotels.com/hotel/hotel-de-veluwe/

https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/3591498

Lips shared access

July 5th, 2023

Locks don’t have to be hard to pick to be interesting, and a Lips lock Jos loaned me is a fine example of that.

Lately I’ve been drawn to picking lever locks, as they have that nice “Skyrim” vibe. You can get a long way with just some bent wires. Knowing that, Jos brought this nice Lips lock to a Toool meetup, and I got to play with it a little.

Picking it is pretty straightforward, as there are no false gates on the lever, and no curtain. The pin in the keyway does make navigation a bit awkward, but all in all it’s not hard to pick. 

Things get more interesting when you take a closer look at the lock.

First of all, it’s a Lips lock. Lips is a Dutch lock manufacturer that was founded in Dordrecht in 1871 by Jacobus Lips. In 1971 it became part of Chubb, and since 2000 it’s part of the Assa Abloy group.

The second name on the lock is P.G.E.M. The P.G.E.M. (or Provinciale Gelderse Energie Maatschappij) was a utility company delivering electricity and gas to the whole province of Gelderland in The Netherlands. Every Dutch province used to have its own utility company. It was owned by the province, and the local municipalities.

In the 1990’s the Dutch government decided all the utility companies had to be privatized, and P.G.E.M. became part of Nuon (which is now a part of Vattenfall).

Below P.G.E.M. are the letters LS, that stand for Laagspanning or Low Voltage. PGEM used these locks to secure electrical substations, and LS indicates this particular lock was used on a low voltage substation. The other side of the lock tells us more about this.

Here we see “Onderstation Woudhuis” written in pencil. Onderstation Woudhuis is a substation located in the city of Apeldoorn.

The double keyway is a striking feature which reminds of dual custody locks, only this isn’t that. It’s shared access, where only one of both keys is required to open the lock. This becomes clear when the faceplate is removed.

This seems to be a form of master keying without having to need to add extra gates to the levers, which would compromise the security of the lock. 

Every lever has two cuts at the bottom. A closer look at two of the levers shows how different cut heights make it possible to open the lock with two different keys.

Moral of the story: locks are fun in so many ways.

~Greenish

After posting the original blog, a good friend in the UK shared a page with the patent of the ‘Mastership’ two keyhole lock from 1889. http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/locks/gazetteer/gibbons/gibbons6.htm

EVVA ELUS cylinder

June 28th, 2023

I recently acquired an EVVA cylinder stamped “ELUS”. Nothing could be found about it, so I decided to investigate it.

Looking at this picture, it looks pretty standard. It is a variation of the EVVA NL system, which is inself is a variation of the TSC system. The NL is a 5-pin cylinder with multiple possible key profiles and with master keying in the bitting.

But: this system has additional electronics attached to it:

The electronics implement a Temporary Access Function, similar to that in the EVVA ICS TAF cylinder, invented around 25 years later than this. It was an invention of EVVA Netherlands with one of their partners, but it never reached production.

Read more about it in the paper Ive written about it.

-Walter.

What happens at a Toool meetup?

May 31st, 2023

In the current Tool rhythm, we have one meetup a week. Both the Amsterdam and Eindhoven meetups are Bi-weekly, where we planned to have one meetup a week. We come together to discuss lock topics, compete in the Toool competition, and generally have fun picking locks.

In this post, I’d like to share pictures topics and projects that have come across at Toool meetups.

A locked coin safe was brought to the meeting. Due to the construction of the box, the lock was a very difficult to put torque on with a turning tool. We succeeded in opening the lock several times, and had great fun picking the lock in literally seconds with an electronic pick.

Once in a while, we receive donations from community members. This Sparrows vault was donated to us with the request for an upgrade to the lock, as the original served not enough of a challenge. We complied, and mounted a Kaba Mas X0 Electronic lock on the Vault.

Everyone has a go-to pickset, one which is a mix of everything. We also bring Sunday’s best to dedicated sets. For example, Moki makes great picksets, which are even better with homemade handles. Or a shiny Multipick set, be it dimple or a dual-gauge set designed by Christina Palmer. Where the only part staged about the photo is to have all the sets neatly displayed.

We went to the Association des Crocheteurs de France conference in December 2022, and brought back a few tools and picks from France. We attempted to pick the Polox-5, and Fichet F3D. Both attempts made possible by the incredible work of Nitiflor, who designed and 3D printed these picks.

Jos brought a suitcase with Chinese locks, which was gifted to him for organizing LockCon 2016. At the time, these locks were unobtainable, and information sparse. The mechanisms are very intricate with 50-element wafer locks, and cores with continuous rotation similar to the Yuema 750, an implementation we have yet to see used in Europe.

If this blog sparked interest in lockpicking, or if you have been picking and would like to join a meetup, please contact us. We are always welcome to new people, be it to teach the basics or to share advanced tricks. https://toool.nl/Gatherings

May Contain Hackers 2022

May 26th, 2023

In the summer of 2022, the Dutch hacker community gathered at the May Contain Hackers conference. The conference was amazing, with over a dozen simultaneous tracks with topics ranging from electronics, privacy and internet security, to art and technology. The program is published at https://program.mch2022.org/ and the talks are published on https://media.ccc.de/c/MCH2022.

For Lockpicking content, Toool organized a lockpicking village, The MCH CTF included lockpicking challenges, and plenty of exciting talks are given. Including Introduction to lockpicking and safe cracking, Anker 3800 Magnetic lock, and bumping electronic locks! More on these after a photo impression of MCH.

Jan-Willem presented an introduction to lockpicking and safe lock manipulation.

Talk description from the MCH schedule: Most security implementations leak information, mechanical security is no different. It takes sharp eyes, a soft touch, and a good hearing to distinguish between information and noise. In this talk we will go in depth on how locks works, and how we can persuade them to disclose their secrets, and open them without damage.

The Open Organization of Lockpickers (Toool) is a group of nerds obsessed with mechanical security. We create, collect, take apart, discuss, and attempt to defeat locks. While we are known for lockpicking, there are many other techniques for opening locks without damage.

This talk will focus on the language of the locks, the side channels in mechanical security systems. We will start with binding order, the mechanism to isolate the locking elements, and exploit them one by one. Then we will discuss a wide variety of other methods of gathering information and opening locks. Most of these methods are not practical, but working them out gives us great joy, and we would like to share the highlights with you.

Walter presented his research of the Anker 3800 magnetic lock. It includes deriving master keyed systems, designing an electronic key/lock decoder, and 3D printing keys.

Talk description from the MCH schedule: The Anker 3800 is a mechanical lock that has both traditional pins as well as magnetic sliders. Can it be opened without the key? This talk discusses how the lock works in a master keyed system and how it can possibly be defeated. It will cover decoding, picking and key duplication.

The Anker 3800 is a mechanical lock that has both traditional pins as well as magnetic sliders. It was designed by Japanese company MIWA and is sold in the Netherlands under the Anker brand. It is a high security lock that is often used in large master keyed systems.

I wondered: can it be opened without the key? I will present my adventures with the lock, having opened it up to see how it works, and several things I have tried to copy the key, pick the lock, decode the lock and find out what the master key looks like. The talk will include successes and failures and I will discuss designing 3D models, C&C work, electronics, Arduino programming, PCB design, and more.

The talk is aimed at people with an interest in lockpicking. No prior knowledge is necessary.

The write-up is found at https://blackbag.toool.nl/?p=3907

mh shared his research on bumping electronic locks. As in, opening the electronic locks by using a percussion drill and custom attachment.

Talk description from the MCH schedule: Modern electronic locks are often optimized for cost, not security. Or their manufacturers don’t do security research. Or they ignore it. For whatever reason, many current electronic lock systems are susceptible to surprisingly simple attacks. We’ll look at some of them, and at the underlying basics, so that you can do your own research.

In this talk, we look at a number of modern electronic locks and their security flaws. Surprisingly many current systems are susceptible to very simple attacks, like the equivalent of using bump keys. Of course, there are electronic and/or SW-based attacks, too.
We’ll look at some of them, and at the underlying basics, so that you can do your own research.
Some of the problems have been fixed by manufacturers, but typically only for future production runs, so you will get some practical advice on how to test your own hardware for these critical flaws.

Jan-Willem presented a basic introduction to threat modeling and uses puzzles as an example.

Talk description from the MCH schedule: Mechanical locks are everywhere and come in all shapes and flavors. But choosing the right lock can be rather difficult. For example, what is better? A lock that is hard to pick, or a lock with hard to duplicate keys. This talk will not give you the answers, but it will help you understand the trade-offs. Furthermore, we will have fun threat modeling our locks.

Is lockpicking a threat you should be concerned about, or is the brick the tool you should care for? Jan-Willem, from The Open Organization of Lockpickers (Toool), will share his ideas on mechanical security and threat modeling. We will make it fun and use several case studies, starting with defining a lock, threat modeling mechanical puzzles, and use several case studies where the threat was overrated. Simply put, attacks against locks range from the trivial to mastery. I’ll share multiple failed attempts of attacks that should be trivial, but were not in practice, and we will analyze them together.

Experiment driven lockpicking

May 10th, 2023

We are happy to present the talk Experiment driven lockpicking by Jan-Willem at HackerHotel 2023.

The talk goes into uncovering information leakage in locks like Bowley Rotasera and Kromer Protector.
May this talk inspire to do research and share all the interesting results.

The slides can be viewed and downloaded below.

Cutaway locks, why put in the effort?

April 16th, 2023

In a previous blog post, I’ve written about Qikom’s cutaways. Whereas, this post is a tangent on why we would like to see more cutaways made and the knowledge shared.

When we teach beginners, and show them a unique lock, often they can’t imagine what happens in the lock. As all they can see is the outside. To illustrate this, let’s play a short game with a Fichet 787. The key looks quite interesting, as it has half a dozen cutouts on each side. It’s not symmetrical, and can only be inserted in the keyway in one direction. You feel a spring pushing against the key, but at rotation it seems to be like any other lock.

If you haven’t seen this lock before, take a moment to imagine what the internals are like.

Fichet 787. CC-BY-4.0 Jan-Willem, Toool Blackbag

It’s quite obvious where I’m going with this. There can be almost anything inside the shiny cylinder. It will be very difficult to find the solution without taking it a part, or looking at a diagram. The cutaway, like the one from Qikom below, shows the internals from the lock. Reducing the guess work over a picture of the parts.

Qikom Fichet 787 Cutaway
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Qikom Fichet 787 Cutaway; The interaction between the lever pack and the gears.
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Qikom Fichet 787 Cutaway; The lock is open.
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Is it anything like you imagined it to be?

What does the 787 do? The Fichet 787, is a push lever lock. Where the push action allows the lateral movement of the levers to rotate a set of gears to the opening position. The sidebar is a passive element that checks if the gears are all aligned. With the correct key, the cylinder moves inwards, clears a blocking element, and is able to rotate. At the same time, the key is trapped by two half circle disks.

It is quite possible you have seen this lock before, as it has been around for decades. I’ve learned about the lock in 2018, and recently expanded the knowledge at the Association des Crocheteurs de France lock conference in December 2022. I’ve learned the dovetail, which connects the cam to the core, is a fairly recent addition that prevents a (partially) destructive attack, for example.

French locks are my favorite weird lock designs, where Fichet is king. The ingenuity is admirable, with many clever ways to solve the same problem…