Reconsidering Physical Key Secrecy: Tele-duplication Via Optical Decoding

This is an interesting Research Paper on physical key security, published by Benjamin Laxton, Kai Wang and Stefan Savage, Department of Computer Science & Engineering University of California, San Diego La Jolla, California, USA. It examines physical key control and the ability to duplicate, replicate, and simulate keys through various means.

The access control provided by a physical lock is based on the assumption
that the information content of the corresponding key is private — that duplication should require either possession of the key or a priori knowledge of how it was cut. However, the everincreasing capabilities and prevalence of digital imaging technologies present a fundamental challenge to this privacy assumption.

Using modest imaging equipment and standard computer vision algorithms,
we demonstrate the effectiveness of physical key teleduplication—
extracting a key’s complete and precise bitting code at a distance via optical decoding and then cutting precise duplicates. We describe our prototype system, Sneakey, and evaluate its effectiveness, in both laboratory and real-world settings, using the most popular residential key types in the U.S.