OPEN IN THIRTY SECONDS: Cracking One of the Most Secure Locks in America is the printed edition of High Security Supplement (the multimedia edition on CD for Government agencies, locksmiths, and security professionals). This book examines new techniques to compromise Medeco® Biaxial® and m3 high security locks by methods of forced, covert, and surreptitious entry. It is the result of an eighteen month research project by the authors and other security experts. It has resulted in the filing of multiple patents and the ability to pick, bump, and mechanically bypass Medeco cylinders, sometimes in seconds. As of 2019, four patents have been issued to the authors for the code-setting keys, process to decode the locks, and certain protective measures.
Medeco, for the past fifty years, has been the predominant high security lock manufacturer in the United States. They protect high value targets and critical infrastructure throughout the world. Their venues include the White House, Pentagon, embassies, palaces, and the Royal Family in England, as well as hundreds of thousands of residences, businesses, hospitals, banks, government facilities, and critical infrastructure. Their locks are found in virtually every application where the highest level of quality and security is expected.
Covert entry specialists have attempted to develop reliable methods to bypass these cylinders since 1970, when the original Medeco lock was first introduced. Their resistance to all forms of entry is due to the development and implementation by Medeco of the rotating pin tumbler concept, in combination with a sidebar. These inventions have set the standard in the high security lock industry, and until now have been virtually impervious to reliable techniques of attack.
In its fourteen chapters, this book provides detailed information to protection professionals that rely upon Medeco or other high security locks about security vulnerabilities. Perhaps as important, it offers an insight into the world of locks for the average consumer or risk administrator. They often lack the requisite knowledge to understand what may or may not be secure for their particular environment. It allows them to distinguish between hyperbole and reality, especially as it relates to lock bumping and picking, as well as which locks are secure.
The book is divided into three parts in which the underlying theory and practical application of advanced bypass techniques are thoroughly examined. Included is an analysis of the design of conventional pin tumbler locks, UL and BHMA/ANSI security standards, a comparison of four high security locks, and the design theory and security of Medeco cylinders. We examine the different methods of compromise that were developed for the Biaxial and m3 cylinders by forced entry, picking, bumping, and extrapolation of the top level master key. The complete circumvention of key control, even for those locks that utilize the most proprietary and restricted keyways, is detailed because of its critical importance to the protection of locks against certain methods of bypass.
Information is presented that will allow security officers to assess the potential advantages, as well as risks and vulnerabilities that may flow from the use of Medeco locks within their facility. This is especially important with regard to data, assets, and infrastructure that may be regulated by federal or state statutes because of the liability that can flow from the failure to properly secure data and property from attack and compromise.
The development of methods to bypass Medeco locks required the solution to many interrelated and complex problems and may be the modern equivalent of the Enigma code machine during World War II. Security in Medeco cylinders is that good.
The process to compromise all levels of Medeco security required technical expertise, the connection of many unrelated pieces of information, and perhaps most importantly, imagination. The chronology of how Medeco security was cracked is a good story, especially if you enjoy technical-based intellectual challenges that have serious security implications in the real world.
See Reviews of “Open in Thirty Seconds,” LSS+, and “Locks, Safes, and Security” in the ASIS Security Management Magazine, The National Locksmith, on Amazon, and on Internet sites.
On October 10, 1977, a senior Medeco technical support representative stated, in part, as a response to a question from a caller about bumping and picking, that “…the biggest prize in this industry would be for someone to be able to come out and say they could pick a Medeco lock, because we’ve never been proven, in the 40 years of our existence, that someone can do that…”
“… the same with bumping…”
“…the accolades that would come to that person within the industry would be as big as anything that this industry has ever seen…”
Medeco has consistently denied there is any vulnerability in their locks against the techniques developed by the authors, either from forced or covert methods of entry. As of April 25, 2008, they have refused to make any public comment about the information in this book.
® Medeco and Biaxial are registered trademarks of Medeco Security Locks, Inc.