Electronic Safe Locks and How to Destroy Them

August 20, 2023
David Sunnyside

Electronic safe locks are becoming popular because of their convenience and security. They require a user-entered numeric code to unlock the safe. They also offer features such as dual user mode, time delay and the ability to manage users. These locks can also be serviced from the outside of the lock and will warn you if its battery is low.

They are impervious to many common manipulation techniques including punch and magnetic attacks and can be locked using a motor drive for swing bolt or auto-relocking dead bolts. They can also be reset via factory reset codes and external methods such as a spiking device or lock defeat box.

There are several ways to defeat a combination lock, but the most effective is brute force. This involves trying every possible number combination until you get the right one. It can take a long time to do this manually, but modern computers can perform the task very quickly.

Despite being marketed as high-security, most consumer electronic safes can be defeated fairly easily. At the Defcon hacker convention last week, a researcher known as Plore presented strategies for quickly identifying a safe’s custom-selected keycode by using side-channel attacks that are typically used against cryptosystems. These methods involve analyzing power fluctuations and variations in the timing of the operation to figure out the correct input. Plore was able to use these techniques to find the password for a Titan Pivot Bolt lock in under 15 minutes, compared with the 3.8 years it would take to try all possible combinations and brute force the lock.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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