An emerging threat to your security
A recent story on A Current Affair (Channel 9, 4th June 2007) publicized an intrusion technique known as 'Lock Bumping'. Bumping is a method of opening mechanical locks without leaving any sign that the lock has been forced. Most locks in use throughout Australia are vulnerable to bumping, so it is important to consider the implications of this threat to your business and home security.
What is lock bumping?
Lock bumping is a relatively simple technique that involves inserting a modified key part way into a lock and hitting or 'bumping' it while applying rotational pressure. The impact on the key causes the pins in the lock to jump momentarily, enabling the lock to be opened. The spring-loaded pins immediately return to their previous position, leaving no evidence of forced entry.
How big a threat is bumping?
Lock bumping is not new. However, the technique is easy to learn and the only equipment needed is a key blank that fits a given lock, a file to modify the blank, and something to bump the key with (a small hammer, a screwdriver handle or a rock will do). Key blanks and bumping tutorials are easily available on the internet.
Publicity in the media is also boosting the profile of lock bumping, bringing it to the attention of concerned property owners and criminals alike.
It is important not to exaggerate the threat posed by lock bumping. Any security measure is potentially vulnerable to a determined intruder; bumping is just one more technique available to criminals.
The main problem with bumping often becomes apparent when victims file an insurance claim: since bumping leaves no sign of forced entry, some insurance companies will refuse to pay a claim on the basis that there is no evidence of unauthorised entry.
How can you protect yourself against lock bumping?
As with any security threat, multiple security measures working in tandem provide the best protection. Any lock is more secure when combined with appropriate lighting as well as alarm and/or surveillance systems and safes.
You can counter the particular threat of lock bumping in several ways:
For bump-proof mechanical locks, we recommend hardware by BiLock and Assa Abloy (Lockwood). A restricted key system adds extra protection since key blanks are less easily available to would-be intruders.
Electronic access control systems are not vulnerable to bumping, and should be considered for business applications where optimum security is required.