[ISN] Lock-pickers bump into inventor's sticky solution

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Jan 18 2007 - 22:32:33 PST


By Sion Barry
Western Mail
Jan 17, 2007

BURGLARS who use a lock-picking method known as "bumping" are going to 
find it a lot tougher to break into homes, thanks to an innovative new 
product designed by a Welsh inventor.

Much to the concern of police and others, the bumping technique, which 
can open common pin-type cylinder locks in seconds, has been described 
in detail on one of the most globally popular sites for young people on 
the internet.

With millions of homes fitted with such locks, the information has been 
condemned in the national media as "free tips for would-be burglars".

The Master Locksmiths Association said the technique "should not be in 
the public domain".

The potential for any thief to gain easy access to households seems 
likely to become a growing issue, particularly for accommodation 
providers such as local authorities and housing associations, which are 
responsible for 6.7 million dwellings in the UK.

However an industrial designer with extensive experience in commercial 
product design and project management, both with major door 
manufacturers and as a specialist consultant, has come up with a clever 
yet simple response to the threat.

Mark Garratt's company, Almore, based in Pontypridd, has perfected 
Pickbuster, a special fluid which can be squirted into locks to make it 
very difficult for a would-be burglar to "bounce" the pins inside, but 
which does not affect normal key operation.

The synthetic, high-tack fluid, specially developed in conjunction with 
a German firm, is easy to apply, non-toxic and can withstand extremes of 
temperature. It is being made available initially to housing 
organisations in aerosol form at 2.70 per lock treatment via 

The company is working on a version for individual householders.

One of the main attractions of Pickbuster is it helps housing 
authorities fulfil their duty of care to tenants without having to 
modify or replace locks or doors - potentially a massive and expensive 

Mr Garratt has provided technical services to door makers, to government 
purchasing organisations and to police bodies such as Secured By Design, 
which advises councils and housing associations on security.

He said "People in the security industry have been aware of the bumping 
technique for some time, but now that video footage and instructions 
about how to make and use bump keys have been published on the internet, 
the danger is it will become mainstream knowledge.

"One of the problems arising when a lock has been bumped open and a 
house raided is that insurance companies do not pay out because there is 
no evidence of forced entry."

He added, "Pickbuster is like a patch issued by an IT security company 
to address a new threat; lock manufacturers, like software protection 
companies, make excellent products, but when people start finding ways 
around their defences, then a response is called for."

Chris Pankhurst, Almore's client adviser, who worked for 12 years in the 
care industry after an RAF career, said, "No system is foolproof, but 
few burglars can afford to spend ages trying to bump open a lock treated 
with Pickbuster.

"It is very difficult, if not impossible."

Almore is being advised by Entrepreneur Action under the General Support 
for Business programme operated by the Welsh Assembly Government's 
Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks.

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