Category Archives: Technology

Protect your keys 101

Technology is never at a standstill and along with the good also comes the bad. Of course we all love our smartphones, can’t imagine our life without it anymore, right?

Unfortunately tech-savy burglars have discovered a new way to use our favorite device to break into our houses or cars the easy way. With the help of a smartphone app and an online key printing service it only takes two pictures and the thieves could potentially have a working copy of your house or car keys without you ever knowing anything about it.

But is it really that easy? When could somebody unbeknownst to you snap two pictures of your keys (front and back)? Situations where you could be at risk are when your car is at the repair shop, if you hand your keys over for valet parking or if you give your house keys to a contractor. Basically anytime you hand over your keys to somebody else and let them out of your sight there’s a potential for an indivdual to take the pictures.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Don’t leave your keys lying on your desk in the office, especially if it’s a high-traffic area where the public also has access.
  • If somebody wants to borrow your keys make sure that it’s a person you know and can trust.
  • Don’t post pictures of your keys on social media sites. Some keys have their cut codes stamped onto them, which would make it easy for anyone to get a copy.
  • Up your security. Get high-security locks that are harder to duplicate than the standard keys you get at big box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.
  • If you have to let your keys out of your sight make sure that the individuals you’re dealing with are trustworthy, be it the car mechanic, cleaning service, or the plumber. Get references before you hand over your keys.

If you would like to talk about installing high-security locks email Jim or give him a call at 860-678-9797. He can help you make your Connecticut home more secure. Jim Arsenault is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience.

Gas pump universal keys and credit card skimming

With everybody always pressed for time paying at the pump when filling up the gas tank is a great convenience. But be careful, that convenience could cost you!

Gas pumps are a preferred target of credit card skimmers because they are rarely checked by gas station employees. How does a skimming device work? The are just like any other credit card reader, except they fit over the existing slot of the legitimate reader. So when the consumer swipes the card to buy gas the gas pump and the skimmer read the information of the credit card. As soon as the thieve gets the information of your card he/she can start making purchases using your credit card number.

Why is it so easy to install a skimmer in a gas pump? Most pumps use a universal key that opens the gas pump doors, meaning that’s the same key that can be used on a gas pump in Connecticut all the way to California. And of course, these keys are available online. To stop the installation of skimmers, gas station owners have taken to lock the pumps with an additional padlock.

Watch ABC News Nightline video: Credit Card Thieves Caught on Tape Using Skimmers

What does a residential locksmith do?

CT Locksmith servicesIt used to be that a locksmith would actually make the lock – a time consuming process to produce one single lock. Modern manufacturing has certainly changed that and in today’s world the locksmith is focused on repair, re-keying, and installation of locks. The professional locksmith also advises property owners on which type of locking devices are best suited for their home’s windows and doors.

Technology has given locksmiths more options to offer a home owner for protection of property and valuables. A professional locksmith can install a simple deadbolt lock or a high-tech lock with a fingerprint reader to offer higher security for valuable jewelry, art collections, or the family silver. They can also install safes to store important documents.

In addition, some locksmith services install electronic access systems or keyless entry systems for residential use. A few of these lock systems can also be integrated with a home automation system so doors can be locked and unlocked from anywhere in the home. No more getting out of bed in the middle of the night to let a family member in if they forgot the key. Not only that, some of the more sophisticated systems on the market can actually open the door from anywhere in the world with the help of a personal computer. Another more everyday use would be to set up the outdoor light fixtures to turn on automatically at a certain time each day. A great feature to have that provides safety and security any day but especially once the days are getting shorter and it gets dark earlier.

Have questions about your locks or need help deciding which type of lock is the best for your home? Jim is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. Simply email or give Jim a call at 860-678-9797.

Lost keys? There’s an app for that!

It’s early morning, you’re rushing to get to work. You’re all set to go and… you can’t find your keys. You have no idea where they could be hiding and the thought of having to search the entire house makes you break out into a cold sweat. You’re going to be late for work and your boss is not going to b e happy. Does this scenario sound familiar?

Technology comes to the rescue in the form of tracking tags and smartphone apps. The sensor (tag) is about the size of a key fob that attaches to your keychain. The fob is paired with the app and they talk to each other via Bluetooth. The key fobs are available from various manufacturers in all different price ranges. The software app is usually a free download and some apps work not only on smart phones but also on an iPad.

Once you have your fob and the app communicating with each other life is good. No more starting the day off on the wrong foot because your keys are missing. Can’t find them? Get out your smartphone, launch the app and start sending the signal to the fob attached to your keychain. You’ll soon hear a noise coming from your keychain and you’ll be able to find your keys.

If your phone and keys are not located within approximately 100 feet of each other, then Bluetooth will not work anymore but some manufacturers have also included GPS tracking. In that case you’ll see a map and the approximate address where you left your keys on your smartphone.

Jim is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. Need help getting a lock replaced or keys re-keyed?. Simply email or give him a call at 860-678-9797.

Print your own key

We’ve heard of computer hackers that illegally access credit card companies’ servers and steal credit card information. We know of hackers that bring down entire websites or deface them with their own message. Now we’ve been presented with a new hacking experience – three MIT students unveiled their technique on how to duplicate a key that is supposedly “not-duplicatable.”

The electrical engineering students focused on lock maker Schlage’s Primus* locks. These locks are advertised for use in high-security environments such as government facilities, healthcare settings, detention centers, etc. and are generally thought of as being beyond the average hardware store keymaker’s ability to be reproduced. The only way to get a copy of the key is to go directly to Schlage.

With a flatbed scanner and their software the students were able to render a precise 3D model which they uploaded to the online 3D printing service that produced a working key made out of nylon for around $5, a more durable titanium key from cost them $150. iMaterialize has stated on their own blog that had they known the intentions of the students, the key would not have been printed.

At Def Con 21, the hacker conference held from August 1–4, 2013 in Las Vegas, the students released a piece of code that anyone can use to create a key with readily available 3D printing tools. Does that make these three young men evil? We think it just shows that because something worked for a long time, it shouldn’t be assumed that it will work forever. 3D printing is bound to result in new concerns for manufacturers and security professionals, but as we know with anything technology related, once it’s here you can’t stop it.

Perhaps the answer for high-security institutions is to move from mechanical locks that are vulnerable to key duplication to electronic locking devices.

*To be fair we have to point out that “high security locks” from other manufacturers would be just as vulnerable to duplication with this method as Schlage’s Primus model.

Have a question about how to implement electronic locks in your CT business or institution? Email Jim Arsenault or call him at 860-678-9797.