Locksport Meetup: February 2016

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Saturday night, I met up with the Longhorn Lockpicking Club, at the Spider House Café in downtown Austin, Texas. It is a group of about 15 different members that pick locks, drink beer, eat burgers, and talk new security exploits they have learned.

Locksport Meetup

The leader of the club goes by the name Jgor. He’s the real deal! He is not only a world renowned computer hacker and security exploit extraordinaire, but he is the legitimate North American Lock Picking Champion!

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Jgor has competed numerous times at the world’s biggest security convention in Las Vegas known as DEFCON, and has taken home the win, beating out Schuyler Towne (the previous US Champion) just a few years ago. However, DEFCON has stopped offering any contests in the last 2 years so the title was up for grabs. In November 2015, The TOOOL-US group hosted a 3 day event in Seattle, Washington for the very first time called LOCKCON-U.S., and Jgor went with his pick sets in hand to represent Texas! He not only took 1st place in the speed picking contest, but he beat out the European Legend Jos Weyers. Mr. Weyers went on to win the coveted Key Impressioning Contest that same day. This gave Jgor an automatic invitation to compete against the Europeans at LOCKCON-NL for the title of World Lock Picking Champion. However, due to weird timelines and scheduling conflicts between the European and the US conventions, there will actually be another LOCKCON-U.S. (but with a different name) prior to the next European convention, taking place this May in Seattle, Washington. These conventions are highly respected and very hard to gain admittance to as they are not open to the general public, and they are limited to only 100 lock pickers and tool manufacturers for the entire event.

Jgor also offered to sponsor me to compete with him at the Seattle LOCKCON-U.S. this May, 2016! I still don’t have the official invitation yet, but I will be petitioning to go shortly.

Here is a picture of Jgor and I at the meetup that Saturday night. (I’m on the left, Jgor on the right)

Locksport Meetup

Now onto the new exploits!

First up is the Master Lock #175. I had a good discussion with Jgor about the Master 175, and he concurred that the newer models are indeed much harder to bypass. For the original technique, see link below.

(The following video was uploaded by Kelly Alwood, a SERE Instructor and Locksport Legend!)

However on the newer Master 175, you must push your probe in twice as far as you originally had too. Damn near a full inch! He says if your tool is strong enough to make it that far into the lock, just “lever” your pick as you would on the older models. He also agreed that the new models will have unique identifiers such as letters before the model number. Ex. ab175, or db175 and so on. I tried this technique immediately when I got home on my brand new Master 175, and sure enough, because of tighter tolerances and newer design, I had to force my tool in all the way to the back of the lock, levered the tool back and forth, then POP! The lock opened. However using this method is no longer a bypass technique in my opinion as much as it is a destructive technique. As you can see in the images below, I not only destroyed my tool in the process, but I have physically damaged the face of the lock (above wheel 2 & 3). So this technique still works, but you are destroying your tool and a little bit of the lock in the process. I also marked with a sharpie marker just how far I had to insert the tool. Damn far! (see images)

*Update! After watching a recent YouTube video by BosnianBill, it is confirmed there is a 2nd exploit to the Master 175, but it requires a thin knife tool that must be 0.012 thick to make that technique work. At the time of this writing, I do not own such a tool. 

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Next was a conceptual lock that could only be purchased through Kickstarter called “noke”. It is an electronic padlock that uses Bluetooth technology to sync your phone with the lock itself. Purchasing this lock comes with a free download of the proprietary software required to “shake hands” with the lock so to speak, and when the phone is in range (about 10 ft.) the lock automatically opens. There is a failsafe to this lock that is quite unique. You must press on the shackle of the padlock, using MORSE CODE of all things to unlock the lock!! I’m not even kidding. It was currently set to SOS (…—…) So I pressed on the shackle as if sending an SOS signal in Morse Code, as a small LED light lit up on the face of the lock with every note, and POP! The lock opened! There are some inherent disadvantages to owning such a lock as it is still in Beta Testing, but this is a very cool lock indeed!

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Lastly, I got to play with a handmade Puzzle Lock. It was originally found at a renaissance festival by a local lock picker, and given to Jgor as gift for running a previous event. The lock body was made of solid brass and required not only 3 keys to open it, but you had to solve 4 different steps of the puzzle in the correct order just to release the shackle! It wasn’t the most difficult of puzzles as I opened it in 2 minutes on the first try but it was a work of art, and a great addition to any lock or puzzle collection.

Locksport Meetup

 

If you have never been to a Locksport meetup, you should definitely try, and feel free to take some locks and picks from your collection to show off. Below is the kit I took to show off to the group, but I did not offer for any of the members to pick them, as they were just for “show & tell” purposes. There are usually plenty of locks to practice on at any event or meetup.

Locksport Meetup

I have been to well over a dozen Locksport Meetups in the last 6 years, spanning 4 cities and 3 states to include Denver, Colorado, LA, California, San Antonio, Texas and Austin, Texas. I typically will go to about 2-3 per year as my work schedule permits. They are not only a great place to learn how to pick locks, but an awesome place to meet new friends, drink beer, eat burgers and wings, and have fun! Look for one in your city, or start your own!