MIT Students 3D Print Primus Keys (and an essay on tech activism)

Continuing the ‘3D printing makes key control obsolete’ saga… some students from MIT have developed a program that appears to create 3D-printable Primus key models. All you need to do is feed in the cut information.

Unfortunately, though they currently provide a defense, once 3D printing gets good enough even moving elements in keys will become possible to fabricate reliably. (Captured moving elements are already possible on a somewhat larger scale.)

Bruce Sterling has a good essay on tech activism:
“Even the electronic civil lib contingent is lying to themselves. They’re sore and indignant now, mostly because they weren’t consulted — but if the NSA released PRISM as a 99-cent Google Android app, they’d be all over it. Because they are electronic first, and civil as a very distant second.

They’d be utterly thrilled to have the NSA’s vast technical power at their own command. They’d never piously set that technical capacity aside, just because of some elderly declaration of universal human rights from 1947. If the NSA released their heaps of prying spycode as open-source code, Silicon Valley would be all over that, instantly. They’d put a kid-friendly graphic front-end on it. They’d port it right into the cloud.

Computers were invented as crypto-ware and spy-ware and control-ware. That’s what Alan Turing was all about. That’s where computing came from, that’s the scene’s original sin, and also its poisoned apple.

There’s not a coherent force on Earth that wants to cork up that bottle. They all just want another slug out of that bottle — and they’d rather like to paste their own personal, prestige label onto the bottle’s glass. You know, like your own attractive face, pasted on the humming planetary big iron of Facebook.”

“At the Def Con hacker conference Saturday, MIT students David Lawrence and Eric Van Albert plan to release a piece of code that will allow anyone to create a 3D-printable software model of any Primus key, despite the company’s attempts to prevent the duplication of those carefully-controlled shapes. With just a flatbed scanner and their software tool, they were able to produce precise models that they uploaded to the 3D-printing services Shapeways and i.Materialise, who mailed them working copies of the keys in materials ranging from nylon to titanium.

“In the past if you wanted a Primus key, you had to go through Schlage. Now you just need the information contained in the key, and somewhere to 3D-print it,” says 21-year old Van Albert. “You can take a high security ‘non-duplicatable’ key and basically take it to a virtual hardware store to get it copied,” adds 20-year-old Lawrence.[…]

As for Schlage’s 3D printing problem, Lawrence and Van Albert don’t offer any easy fix. They argue the the whole notion of non-duplicatable keys may be an anachronism in the age of 3D printing, and that high-security institutions should move to electronic locks that use unique cryptographic keys that are far harder to copy. “If we show that mechanical locks are vulnerable to key duplication just by having a handful of numbers you can download off the internet, hopefully they ‘ll be phased out more quickly,” says Van Albert.”

%d bloggers like this: