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Key fingerprint = AF19 FA27 2F94 998D FDB5 DE3D F8B5 06E4 A169 4E46
Figure 5. Placement of Pick and Tension Wrench in the lock keyway for picking 20

While manipulating each pin, the attacker must rely on the pick’s feedback since
the attacker isn’t able to see inside. It is very common during picking for thebottom pin to be pushed past the shear line. Another common mistake is to
place too much pressure on the tension wrench, so the binding pins cannot be
manipulated. If there is not enough pressure with the tension wrench the plug will
not rotate. Sometimes the lock picker will rotate the tension wrench in the wrong
direction. To solve this problem there is a tool called a plug spinner.21 This tool
rotates the plug in the opposite direction without sacrificing the attacker’s work.

Raking is a common picking technique for beginners as well as professionals.
Ted the Tool refers to this as “scrubbing”.22 This technique can be highly
effective and quicker than manipulating each individual pin. There are several
different techniques to rake as well as manydifferent styles of raking picks.

The following technique demonstrates raking of a pin tumbler lock.
The attacker inserts the tension wrench and turns the plug. Next he inserts the
pick and quickly rakes in a fast backwards and forwards motion across all of the
pins. This moves a few bottom pins at any moment in time. The raking action will
vibrate the top pins above the shear line.Understanding the technique of picking is simple. However to be proficient at
picking a variety of locks, it does require patience and practice. Barry the Key
stated that if a person practiced 4-6 hours a day for 6 months, that person would
be able to open 50% of the common locks. 23 The DefCon 11 2003 lockpicking
contest winner took 2.97 minutes to open 3 locks.24 He stated during theaward
ceremony that he begin picking locks 5 months before the contest and created
his own lockpick set. 25


The impact method is that a sudden shock or bump can enable a pin tumbler
lock to open. Barry the Key described the theory of impact.26 Two gray balls are
next to each other. A third ball travels towards one of them. When the third ball

© SA
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Key fingerprint = AF19 FA27 2F94 998D FDB5 DE3D F8B5 06E4 A169 4E46
hits the gray ball it stops but the impact pushes the other gray ball. That gray ball
travels along the plane. The same concept can be applied to the pins inside the
chamber. If you bump the bottom pin of a common pin tumbler lock it can force
the top pinto jump above the shear line.

Figure 6. Demonstration of impact27

A popular technique to unlock pin tumbler locks is to use a bump key. A bump
key goes by other popular names such as a 999 key, rapping key, or bounce key.
A bump key is typically a blank key with tiny little bumps crafted on the key’s

Figure 7. Bump key 28

The following techniquedemonstrates using a bump key. The bump key is
inserted in the keyway and is rotated as if it were opening the lock. The key is
tilted up and the attacker bumps the underside of the key. The timing of turning
and bumping is a critical factor when using this method because all of the top
pins must go above the shear line and the plug must be rotated at the same time
in order for the lock torelease. It can take several hits.

A Pick gun (also known as snap gun) is a tool that uses a similar technique as
the bump key. It is called a pick gun because it is shaped like a miniature gun.
They are known to be fast and effective against pin tumbler locks.
The pick gun snaps all of the bottoms pins at once. To operate a pick gun the
attacker inserts the tension wrench and the...
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