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High security locks: illusion or reality

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A case study in compromising the most popular high security lock in America: The Medeco m3.

In the United States two standards organizations rate cylinders for their ability to withstand forced and covert attack and certify these locks as suitable for high security installations. Yet are the standards actually what they represent and are consumers really secure if they rely upon them especially if high value commercial or government targets are involved?

Many high security lock manufacturers claim that their cylinders will be impervious to covert methods of entry including picking and bumping and that they offer high levels of key control, effectively preventing the illegal or unauthorized duplication of their keys.

In this presentation, Marc Weber Tobias offers a detailed analysis of how the Medeco lock; of one of the most respected manufacturers in the United States and Europe was compromised by his research team. These cylinders are utilized to protect the most secure areas of commerce and government, not only in America but also in many other countries. This is a serious case in which there has been a basic failure of imagination on the part of design engineers to properly assess the security of the locks that they produce. This has resulted in the exposure of facilities to serious potential vulnerabilities.

Bio: Marc Weber Tobias is an investigative attorney and a physical security expert in locks and safes. He was trained as both a lawyer and criminal investigator and has been a certified polygraph examiner for the past twenty years, employed by government agencies and private clients. He works in the United States and has conducted thousands of polygraph or lie detector examinations in both criminal and civil investigations involving cases of kidnapping and murder to employee theft from commercial businesses. The polygraph is utilized throughout the world by police and intelligence agencies for a variety of purposes, including the verification of statements by suspects and victims, plea bargains in criminal cases, and vetting of government employees and intelligence agents to obtain and maintain security clearances. Marc Tobias has worked several high-profile cases and in one investigation, he conducted the polygraph examination of the career criminal in Sweden that provided the gun that killed the prime minister of that country in 1986.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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