3D-printed 'bump keys' are a tech-savvy lockpicker's best friend

We've all locked ourselves out of our homes or offices at least once, but what do you do when there aren't any handy spare keys laying around? Well, seeing as how we live in the future, you could always 3D print one. Printing a plastic replica of a key you've already got in your possession is a piece of cake, but the real trick for the curious and the criminal alike is figuring out how to print a key that'll open locks without having an original key on hand. Wired spoke to a pair of lockpickers who did just that -- with just a photo of a keyhole, some understanding of the lock's depth and a bit of crafty purpose-built software called Photobump, security consultants Jos Weyers and Christian Holler can print so-called "bump keys" that allow them to jimmy open nearly any lock with just a bit of elbow grease.

Haven't heard of bump keys before? Long story short, they're specially filed keys that you slip into a keyhole and hit with a mallet. Why? The energy from that thump is transferred up from the key's grooves and into the two layers of pins that normally keep the lock from rotating -- if you strike the bump key just right while trying to turn it, that top layer of pins will leap out of the way long enough for you to unlock the whole shebang. If that sounds a little too easy, well, you've got a point. Thankfully, Weyers and Holler aren't trying to sell their tech to the highest, most nefarious bidder -- they're instead trying to coax manufacturers into crafting locks that can better resist these sorts of techniques.