Key Paranoia

There was an interesting albeit brief writeup in the February Popular Mechanics about a program developed by a pair of computer scientists at UC San Diego.

Apparently when keys are cut, they use very discrete shapes and depths. And so this program is able to take images made of a key and use the image combined with its knowledge of how keys are made to make duplicate keys. And get this... those images can be grainy and low res.

According to the article, pics taken with low-res cellphones work and so do regular resolution telephoto shots from rooftops 195 feet away. How's that for scary? I guess you'd better not leave your keys anywhere that they're visible anymore. Well, not unless you want uninvited guests, that is. You leave your keys on a counter for a moment while you search a pocket for something and that person next to you with a cellphone? Snap a quick pic and he's got your key. Scary. Or think about those security cameras in stores---how easy would it be to sell key info gained from the camera along with demographic data from the store? Like your home address, income level maybe, credit standing...

The article closed by saying that the program wasn't available to the public but I'm not sure just how much comfort that provides.


kenju said…
Well, thanks for the warning. I'm not usually paranoid, but I suppose it pays to be careful.
tiff said…
I saw something on TV abotu how in a few years reagular keys will be obsolete in favor of smart tech like remote sensors and stuff.

Wonder how long it will take for someone to hack in to THAT system?
Teresa said…
The interesting thing about this is that we've been totally unsuccessful duplicating keys from three vehicles using an original key. After many tries, one was cut at a dealer after a lengthy research project to prove ownership and look up key codes. The other two cars still don't have a spare.

To think we just have to take a picture of the key!
Indigo said…
That's pretty scary! I had no idea. The technology today is something else.
No_Newz said…
Dang, that is freaky! I read about people taking cell photos of credit cards in line at stores too. We live in a scary crazy world don't we?!
Michael Manning said…
I'm with Lois Lane! I had to teach my mother how NOT to stand in line at a department store check-out counter with reaks taking photos with cell phones. Good post! :)

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