Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2007]
Is this a scam, or is principle similar to Kryptonite locks and BIC pens; or is a locksmith just trying to sell new and more expensive house locks?
Watch this — it is to protect your home!
Origins: The concept of "bump keys" (or "999 keys") gained currency on the Internet in 2006 after an April 2005 Dutch television program demonstrating the technique (and similar videos, such as the one referenced in the example quoted above) were posted on various web sites. The issue has naturally concerned a good many people who have learned about it, since it seemingly shows that many of the kinds of locks typically used on residences are seemingly vulnerable to being bypassed through a fairly simple, effective technique.
A 2006 analysis of "key bumping" published on security.org describes the technique:
The term "bumping" refers to the process of forcing the key to interact with the pin tumblers by "bumping" or rapping it with a plastic mallet while it is inserted into the lock. This process entails hitting the head of the key, causing it to rapidly move forward. When the key is struck correctly, each of the bottom pins is "bumped" upward for a brief instant, thus allowing the lock to be opened.
- Despite the apparent ease and effectiveness of key bumping, whether criminals are making widespread use of the technique to burglarize homes is questionable. Some critics, such as the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), have maintained that publicizing bump keys on the Internet may soon increase the incidence of their use in burglaries and other crimes.
- Many standard pin tumbler locks are vulnerable to key bumping. Higher security-grade locks are less vulnerable (although not necessarily impervious), and non-pin tumbler locks (e.g., rotating disk locks, electronic locks, magnetic locks) are not vulnerable at all.
- A potential "bumper" needs to obtain a key that fits the keyway of the type of lock he seeks to enter. Some types of keys are protected by patent or other restrictions and are more difficult to obtain through normal commercial channels.
- Key bumping can involve a good deal of noisy banging, so it isn't necessarily an optimal method for covertly entering an occupied residence (or one where adjacent residents might be within earshot).
| Opening Locks by Bumping in Five Seconds or Less |
| Bumping Locks |
(The Open Organization of Lockpickers)