Last week at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference, held in New York, a German hacker and security consultant identified only as “Ray” demonstrated some of the implications of 3D printing for law enforcement agencies around the world. Ray achieved this by making use of keys produced using a 3D printer and a laser cutter to open sets of handcuffs made by German company Bonowi and English company Chubb.
Companies that produce handcuffs make them in a manner which allows each and every set to be opened with the same key, something that Ray says has to change. The advent of 3D printing means that anyone, theoretically, could reproduce the keys that are used to open handcuffs.
“Police need to know that every new handcuff they buy has a key that can be reproduced. Until every handcuff has a different key, they can be copied.”
Ray hopes to alert law enforcement officials to the fact that their handcuffs may not be as secure as they think, something that could have serious consequences for a police officer who believes a prisoner is effectively restrained. Since 3D printed keys are plastic or a similar synthetic material, getting them past security checkpoints is also a simple matter.
“People who have a high value goal don’t mind the cost of using a higher cost method. Someone with a higher criminal goal doesn’t care if it takes one dollar or one hundred dollars to make this key. Lock security was broken before. I’ve just made it easier.”