Door Locks – Are Yours Good Enough?

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Your door locks can make the difference between having a secure home and being another victim of a seemingly unstoppable crime wave. There was once a time when provided you had locked the doors, you pretty much knew your home was secure, sadly this is no longer the case. Regrettably the inter-net is in part responsible for this. Like the ‘Force’ the inter-net also has a Dark side, and in recent times it has seen a growing number sites offering information on Lock picking and Locksmiths Tools for sale. As a semi-retired Locksmith I regret the passing of this kind of information into the public domain, but we have to accept the fact that, what could once be considered secure, is secure no longer. We have to ‘up-the -anti’ on the inter-net crime school. The good news is that a great deal of what has found its way onto the inter-net is of low quality, indeed some of it is so bad, it could be considered dis-information, this works to our advantage.

A search on the inter-net for lock picking will inevitably bring up amongst its results you tube videos of folks proudly demonstrating their lock picking skills. I have a few comments to make about them; they are all demonstrating on low quality locks, on which they have no doubt been practicing for some time. Nevertheless these videos do serve one useful purpose, and that is to bring home to ordinary decent folks, that they are at serious risk placing their trust in inferior locks. Another factor that works to our benefit is that, Divine Locks there is a world of difference between picking a lock you have come to know in the relative comfort of a workshop, and attempting the same thing on an unknown lock in a potentially hostile environment.

There are 5 broad categories of locks in general use around the world; cylinder-locks, lever-locks, tubular-locks, combination locks, and electronic locks. Many electronic locks also incorporate a keyed cylinder lock over-ride in-case of power or electronic failure, this of course renders then vulnerable to the same lock-picking techniques as ordinary cylinder-locks. Tubular locks are not used for doors of domestic or commercial properties. Combination locks have their own weaknesses discussed elsewhere, many also have keyed over-rides, similar to the electronic locks. This leaves us with cylinder locks, and lever locks.

Modern lever locks are widely used in the UK and Europe but not used much in the US. These locks incorporate a number of anti-lock-pick devices and are favored by insurers and police. Locksmiths need special tools to pick them, these are expensive and not available to the inter net crime school. This type of lock can be considered secure, (that is provided you don’t keep a spare key under the door mat!). Locks of this type conform to the British/European standard BS EN 12209.

Cylinder Locks are the most widely used type globally, and this is where the bulk of the problems lie. Lower grade and therefore many older cylinder locks are susceptible to about half a dozen different lock-picking techniques. The inter net crime school has latched on to two or three of these techniques. The most popular one being lock ‘bumping’ as it requires the least skill, it does however require the possession of a ‘bump key’, and a bump key is specific to a particular make and model of cylinder lock. (see links below for a more in depth view of the lock bumping problem).

It is not my purpose here to promote one particular lock manufacturer, most of the major lock manufacturers now produce bump proof locks. They have arrived at their bump proof solutions in different ways, this is a good thing, as the diversity improves the overall security of door locks. Remember that Lock bumping is not the only technique available to the inter net crime school, so, if your one of the majority of readers who really need to look at the quality of their door locks, the following parameters should help to sort the wheat from the chaff. The new lock cylinder should have more than one set of pins, look for cylinders with the added security of a sidebar mechanism. The lock should contain a hardened steel ‘anti drill ball’, take keys of a different profile to others around you, (preferably a restricted profile-you may need to consult a reputable locksmith for this), and should be declared bump proof by its manufacturer. Lastly use a lock from a well known manufacturer, (AssaAbloy, Schlage, Ingersoll, Kwickset, Kaba, Medeco to name but a few).

You may wish to add an additional lock to your doors, and I can tell you from painful personal experience, its the devil to have to pick a lock that’s either high or low on a door. Also be aware that, (as I have mentioned elsewhere) Master keyed locks are easier to pick than standard locks, also your locks may not be the only security issues that require your attention.

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