Learning how to pick locks is almost as much an art as it is a science. Locksmiths describe lock picking as the exploitation of a lock’s machinery to open a lock without a key. To understand the process of picking locks, the prospective picker has to be acquainted with how locks and keys function.
The skill of picking a lock involves gaining a good feel for the lock mechanism and the technique needed to pick it. This requires practice and concentration.
Locks are of many shapes and sizes, with many novel design differences. Prospective lock pickers can understand the method of lock picking by investigating one straightforward, common lock. Most locks are based on somewhat related models.
The number and variety of locks currently in use is staggering, yet the vast majority of locks in use are simple pin-tumbler designs that are fairly trivial to pick.
Common Lock Types
Common lock types include:
- Pin-tumbler locks
- Warded locks
- Wafer locks
- Lever locks
- Dial combination locks
- Disc combination locks
- Push-button combination locks
Additional Reading on How to Pick Locks
For information on how to pick locks, check these online references:
The MIT Guide to Lock Picking in HTML format
This FAQ does not attempt to teach locksmithing, just to answer simple questions, give some hints on getting started, and point the user to sources of information. Also included is a glossary of common terms. The Appendix covers many supply places, books, and tapes on lock picking.
How to pick Medeco Locks, Puzzle Locks, and Push Button Combination Locks
Plenty websites and discount catalogs sell lock pick guns, but it is difficult to tell from the ads whether a lock pick gun is a tool worth having. There are problems that accompany their use that are not mentioned in the advertisements. Here is some honest information about the merits, detriments, capabilities, and usefulness of lock pick guns.
The Jolly Roger’s Guide to Picking Master Locks
Impressioning is a method of fitting a key to a lock without taking the lock apart.
A brief guide to physical barriers and physical security measures. Also covers noise, vibration, electronic field, seismic, microwave, and photoelectric sensors.
Open any Simplex lock in about 10 minutes by trying all possible combinations.
The MIT Guide to Lock Picking in PDF format
This paper examines mechanical lock security from a computer science and cryptology perspective. It focuses on new and practical attacks for amplifying rights in mechanical pin tumbler locks. Given access to a single master keyed lock and its associated key, a procedure is given that allows discovery and creation of a working master key for the system. No special skill or equipment beyond a small number of blank keys and a metal file is required and the attacker does not need to engage in suspicious behavior at the lock’s location. Countermeasures are also described that may provide limited protection under certain circumstances. The paper concludes with directions for research in this area and the suggestion that mechanical locks are worthy objects for study and scrutiny.
Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center
Lock picking, Locksmithing, Locks and Picks
Brief guide to lock picking
From HowStuffWorks.com – very nice graphics
From HowStuffWorks.com – very nice graphics
Brief introductory guide to lock picking
Excellent tutorial on Abloy locks.
This paper is a general survey of safe and vault security from a computer science perspective, with emphasis on the metrics used to evaluate these systems and the weaknesses that cause them to fail. The paper examines security against forced, covert, and surreptitious safe opening, focusing on the mechanical combination locks most commonly used on commercial safes in the US. This analysis contrasts the philosophy and tools of physical security with those of information security, especially where techniques might be profitably applied across these disciplines.
Brief introduction to lock picking by Michael Lee.
How to remove pins from a pin tumbler dead bolt in order to create a practice lock for learning how to pick locks.
How to open Mul-T-Lock (pin-in-pin, interactive, 7×7), Assa (6000 Twin), DOM (ix, dimple with ball), LIPS (Octro dimple), Evva TSC, ISEO (dimple & standard), Corbin, Pfaffenhain, and a variety of other expensive mechanical locks without substantial damage, usually in under 30 seconds, with little training and using only inexpensive tools.
This paper examines an overview of the common pin tumbler lock and the five methods to exploit them. Pin tumbler locks are found in a vast majority of residential, commercial, government, and educational institutions. It is possible for an attacker who has no specialized tools or expert skill level to quickly open them. When evaluating the current or future key based pin tumbler lock, the security practitioner should protect against the methods of picking.
Videos on How to Pick Locks
Mark Tobais demonstrates weaknesses in the Medeco M3 mechanism.
This tutorial describes how to make a “Brink’s Function” lock cylinder with a dremmel tool. A brink’s function cylinder allows an employee to unlock or lock a door, but not both. The key will only turn one way while the user’s key will operate the lock in both directions. This compromises the cylinder’s security and is for convenience purposes only.