Misstep 19: Unshackled

A padlock hangs unlocked on a wooden door of a construction site
A padlock hangs unlocked on a wooden door of a construction site

Today takes us to Boston, MA. A beautiful albeit cold coastal town with some of the most fantastic seafood you can buy. It is an area that, not too long ago, was mostly factories and shipyards — now is the Seaport district — a bustling area of hotels and restaurants and businesses.

With all of this building, construction is bound to happen. Construction security is important since tools are expensive, tampering can cost lives, and delays can cause lost contracts. This is why you’ll often see generators and toolboxes hanging from a crane when the workers aren’t around — it requires criminals to somehow find keys to construction equipment, start it up, and then lower the boom to steal it. This takes time, is loud, and is visible. Beyond the threat profile of many criminals (so it works).

In the photo I placed above, you can see that a door to the construction site was unlocked while they were working that day. The pad lock hangs open from the hasp (assuming they didn’t want to lose it).

The Misstep

The lock appears to be an American Lock Model 1100, which is quite decent at pick resistance. However, once you unlock the padlock, you can insert a screwdriver down the hole where the shackle went and drop the core out of these locks. This allows you to rekey the lock body so it can accept master keyed systems or change the key it accepts.

Since it is unlocked, I can swap the lock for any random similar lock I might have, and at the end of the day, they may lock the one I installed. Tomorrow they won’t get in (lol trolld). But that’s not even the biggest issue.

I could install a lock that has a bitting at all shear points (meaning a lock that any key will open). When they close up the place for the night, open the next day, it is unlikely they will notice, since no matter whose key they’re using, my key will work too.

In this way, I can gain access to the building after hours, steal equipment, and show no signs of entry,

The Solution?

Locks can be stamped with an organization name, but you’d need to ensure the core wasn’t replaced, and also that your staff is trained to check for these markings. Instead, either keep the door locked with the padlock, take it with you, or lock it while it hangs open from the hasp.

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Robert Lerner

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