It seems the Transportation Security Administration has done quite big oopsie, and now a 3D printer can give you access to luggage thanks to TSA key pattern leak in an article written by the Washington Post.
The major publication’s intention was addressing the subject of what happens to a traveler’s baggage through airport security, but they also included quite a clear picture of the patterns on TSA master keys. Those are the ones used by the administration to gain access into essentially any lock, but while they do it for security reasons and without malicious intentions, others may not.
Lock-pickers and thieves come to mind, for example. By simply using the precise patterns displayed in the picture, anyone with a 3D printer available for purchase was able to create their own copy of a key to get in anyone’s luggage. Unfortunately, since the article was on the internet, it means that even after the publication realized it may not be a good idea and took down the picture, it was already out there.
Within hours, Xylitol, a Github user had already published the CAD files and made them available for download to virtually anyone with an internet connection, after which Unix administrator Bernard Bolduc gave his 3D printer a try and proved it actually worked, and it took him only around 5 minutes.
According to Bolduc, he didn’t perform any sort of modification, and Xylitol flawlessly replicated the master key pattern to the utmost detail. The Github user himself has remained anonymous and stated that the files were published only for the sake of fun, and that he hadn’t actually tested or used them on a TSA-approved lock.
However, his quick replication proved how easily such a trusted system can crumble with just one picture published online, and the internet is full of those who might seek to take advantage of this mistake.
TSA-approved luggage locks are currently used by millions of travelers across the United States, with well known brands such as Samsonite, Master Lock, and American Tourister depending on their services. The universal key leaked to the public is essentially able to seamlessly unlock all models, without the costumer even knowing.
However, Matt Blaze, who is a computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania and quite well-versed in the art of lock-picking has stated that this will not be a major catastrophe for TSA-approved locks.
Why? Because they weren’t that difficult to lock-pick in the first place. Not that it would be of any comfort to anyone who is eyeing their luggage with a little less certainty that their belongings will remain untouched.
Image source: lock-picking.wonderhowto.com