ITRH Interview on Physical Security

Quick announcement: I was recently interviewed for the In the Rabbit Hole Urban Survival Podcast. This time Aaron and I talked about physical security. We had time to delve pretty deeply into some good topics including general security considerations, deadbolts, padlocks, and safes (a lot of stuff about safes). If you’re interested check it out at https://www.intherabbithole.com/e179/. If you like it, feel free to let Aaron know. Continue reading “ITRH Interview on Physical Security”

Enhancing Deadbolt Security

In my last post I recommended some specific locks. This week’s post will cover improving the security of existing locks, or the Grade 1 hardware I recommended. The goal is to create a “Grade 1+” lock, by adding some additional security measures. Enhancing deadbolt security very achievable with just a little spare time, access to a locksmith, and some basic hand tools. Continue reading “Enhancing Deadbolt Security”

Threat Model-Based Deadbolt Selection

Several weeks I ago I wrote a post about Mechnical Lock Threat Models, detailing categories of locks, and the users who should have them. In this post I am looking specifically at deadbolt selection, and offering some recommendations based on my mechanical lock threat models. Continue reading “Threat Model-Based Deadbolt Selection”

Lock Safari NYC – New York, New York!

I recently had the chance to spend a few days in New York, New York.  This was a personal trip, and I covered a lot of ground. This time, I actually managed to focus on the locks I saw, and I saw some good ones on Lock Safari NYC. I noticed some interesting things about New York’s locks. First, there are a LOT of high-security locks on the street. In Manhattan (LES, SoHo, Midtown, Theatre District) and Brooklyn (including DUMBO and Red Hook), where I spent most of my time, the numbers of high-security and “standard” locks seem almost equal. I also noticed, as expected, a ton of Medeco locks. What surprised me was the huge number of Mul-T-Locks. They probably rivaled the number of Medecos I witnessed.  Finally, I did not see the diversity of locks I had hoped to.  New Yorkers seem to buy a lot of Medecos or Mul-T-Locks, and little else.  With that said, let’s look at some hardware! Continue reading “Lock Safari NYC – New York, New York!”

Hotel Room Insecurity

I travel a lot, and I stay in a lot of hotels. For the last five years I have averaged somewhere 150-200 nights a year in hotels.  This year (so far) has seen me in hotels in at least 32 different cities including Boston, Charleston, Knoxville, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Tampa, Vancouver, and a host of military towns.  This gives me a lot of opportunities to see and think about the security of hotels and hotel rooms.  Hotels generally try to put on a face of security with signs reading, “For our guests’ safety this door is locked between the hours of __ and __”.  I have found this, in reality, to be so much security theater.  Hotel staff are trained in hospitality, not security.  And no matter how secure a hotel attempts to be, there are inherent flaws that are hard to overcome.  Let’s look at some examples of hotel room insecurity and what you can do to mitigate them. Continue reading “Hotel Room Insecurity”

Puck Locks vs High Explosives

I was recently aboard a military training facility that is used for a variety of training techniques, like close-quarters battle (CQB) and explosive breaching.  On one of the breaching lanes I saw something interesting: a puck lock breached with high explosives.  Puck locks do not have a visible hasp.  They are one of the most mechanically secure padlock designs available.  Since everyone loves explosives, I thought this would be an interesting pictorial post: puck locks vs high explosives.

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Threat-Model Based Padlock Selection

Today I will cover some padlocks that I use and personally recommend.  Padlock selection should occur based on the threats they are likely to face.  There are two basic threat models I use when selecting padlocks.  The first is low-to-medium security applications.  These locks will be robust enough against forced entry and offer some light protection against picking and other surreptitious defeat.  The other is high security.  The cost of a high security lock is justified in several instances: if surreptitious entry is a legitimate concern.  They are also preferred for unattended containers.  This might be your luggage†, your gym locker, or a shed on a vacation property.

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Physical Security Books

Since beginning the Lock Safari series of articles I have been asked by several of you about physical security books.  Today’s post will quickly cover the four most useful volumes in my library that pertain to physical security.  Some of these books are quite costly; I am not suggesting you need them all.  For this reason I have broken them down into categories.  Exactly half of these books deal with defeating lock through lock picking or other methodology.  I believe an understanding of these techniques is crucial to understanding how to counter them.  This doesn’t mean you need to be a master locksmith or expert lock picker – you don’t.  But if you understand the principles of how these exploits work, you can better understand how to protect your home.

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Knox-Box Key Box Explained

I’m willing to bet most of you regularly encounter a lock box like the ones in the photos – even if you haven’t noticed it.  They are typically mounted on the exterior of a public building, usually near a door.  If you want to see one, keep your eye out at your local shopping mall, library, hotel, or apartment complex.  You’ll probably run across one, or several.  They may protrude from the wall, or they may be mounted flush with it.  The purposes of the Knox-Box key box may be something of a mystery to most. Few people understand why these things exist. Continue reading “Knox-Box Key Box Explained”

Mechanical Lock Threat Models

In a continuation my suite on threat modeling, this post will discuss lock threat models.  There are many high security locks that are intended to address the vulnerabilities of the standard pin-tumbler mechanism.  There is also a spectrum between bargain-basement hardware and expensive high-security locksets.  I understand that security doesn’t exist in a vacuum: though it would probably be a more secure world if everyone had a high security lock, it would also be a very expensive one.  Deciding on the right lock for your needs should be informed by a threat model.  Continue reading “Mechanical Lock Threat Models”