Lockpicking 101


  • Reading Time  Min Read
  • Publish Date May 9, 2011

At Skookum, we deal a lot with digital security issues. We have to ensure that the code we’re writing is both efficient and secure. Sometimes projects even require adhering to strict guidelines and regulations like HIIPA.

I like exploring the security aspect of what we do, and I hang with a group of like-minded guys from the FALE Association of Locksport Enthusiasts ("FALE"). We’re a group that focuses on removing the obscurity from physical security, because if you’ve got the strongest code in the world, and it is stored at a data center protected by a rent-a-cop and a $10 deadbolt, you could be in for a world of hurt since physical access is the easiest way around digital security there is (more on that in the video below).

I’ve been picking locks with the guys at FALE for about 6 months now. I’m by no means a professional locksmith, nor am I going to burgle your home. I pick locks for fun, camaraderie with friends,  and informational value. It’s like a game… a puzzle, if you will. My wife plays sudoku for fun and to keep her mental sharpness, I pick locks.

Now I realize that some people may cry, "FOUL" when I talk about picking locks since the knowledge I gain from doing so could, in fact, be used for nefarious purposes. Passing that information onto others may even spur stronger feelings since I have no clue if what I’m teaching could get into the wrong hands.

Lets get a few things straight here before we proceed:

  1. Picking a lock that you own or have permission to pick is not illegal.

  2. Possession of lock picking tools is legal in most states. Possession and use of lock picks is considered equivalent to the possession of a crowbar or any other tool that may or may not be used in a burglary, but laws vary by state and most states require proof of illegal intent in order to prosecute. In the great state of North Carolina, having lock picks on your person is completely legal (unless you misrepresent yourself as a certified locksmith or receive compensation for picking locks without state certification).

  3. Disseminating information on the security of certain types and brands of locks should be considered a service to the community since it increases awareness of security and allows consumers to make an informed decision on their lock purchase.

  4. If a burglar really wants to get into your home, the likely avenue of entry will not be picking your deadbolt… they’ll pick up a rock and throw it through a window (the infamous "smash-n-grab"). Increased knowledge among the public on picking locks will NOT increase illegal activity.