Schlage Locks: Setting the Industry Standard

Residential and Commercial Security

Lock Bumping and Commercial Security

Most home and business owners are familiar with the term “lock picking.”  Fewer understand the idea of “lock bumping.”  Lock bumping is a type of lock picking used to gain entry to a premises without the use of the correct key.  This method has drawn attention recently because it is often easier to execute than picking a lock with standard lock-picking tools.  Therefore, it poses a serious threat to both private and commercial property owners.

The method is used on pin and tumbler style locks, which includes cylindrical type locks.  (The method cannot be used on deadbolt locks.  This is another compelling reason to install both a cylindrical and a deadbolt lock on exterior doors.)

The correct key matches up with the pins inside the locking mechanism.

The correct key matches up with the pins inside the locking mechanism.

Pin and tumbler locks employ pins of varying lengths. The teeth of the key must match the lengths of the pins.  When the correct key is inserted into the lock tumbler, the key’s teeth (or ridges or points) make contact with the pins inside the lock.  This causes springs to release the pins and retract the lock.

Turning the key then releases the springs and retracts the lock.

Turning the key then releases the springs and retracts the lock.

Lock bumping requires the use of a lock bump key.  The premise upon which lock-bumping works was first promulgated in the 1970’s.  The technique was simplified years later with the creation of the bump key.  It wasn’t until well after the dawn of the new millennium that industry experts began to raise concerns about security and legal issues surrounding lock bumping.

A typical lock bump key.

A typical lock bump key.

The technique takes a refined sense of touch, but with practice lock bumping could be accomplished by most anyone inclined to do so for whatever the reason.  Naturally, this should raise some sense of alarm in the minds of property owners.

Ironically, the higher quality the lock, the easier it likely is to be “bumped.”  Since today’s security market is so highly competitive, it’s difficult to find a lock that’s low-quality enough to be “bump-proof.”

Fortunately, many manufacturers of lock products, like Schlage Locks, have quickly come to recognize lock bumping as a security issue, as well as a potential legal problem.  Companies like Schlage have employed specific counter-measures in some of its products which make it impossible for the lock to be bumped.  For those who cannot afford to change exterior locks, there are a number of after-market products, such as Pickbuster, which offer simple and affordable solutions to preventing lock bumping.  Of course, outfitting your exterior doors with both a cylindrical lock and a deadbolt lock significantly reduces your chances of a security breach.

Most reputable locksmiths and lock-producing companies around the world support the notion that bump keys should not be sold to the general public.  However, like any product with a certain public demand, there is always a black market for bump keys.  Most industrialized countries do not have any type of law governing the sale of bump keys, further complicating the problem.  Unfortunately for the general public, bump keys can be obtained relatively easily over the Internet.

Currently countries like the UK are pushing to ban the sale of bump keys to the general public.  Industry experts and manufacturers hope to make lock bumping a crime punishable by law.  For more information on ways to support a ban on the sale of bump keys, go to Ban the Bump Key.

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January 7, 2009 - Posted by | Commercial and Residential Security | , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the post. I agree, more information needs to get to consumers on this issue.

    Comment by Pamela | January 8, 2009 | Reply

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