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Toe

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 25, 2002
1,101
2
In another thread it has been mentioned repeatedly that a security cable can be easily picked with a thin piece of cardboard, as demonstrated in this video.

However, I have yet to see anyone demonstrate and anyone else confirm that a Kensington-brand lock can be easily defeated.

I have tried it repeatedly and could not get the lock to turn. See the notch on the lock in this picture? That's a Kensington lock. As far as I can tell, to activate the lock, you need something in that notch, sticking up into the innards of the lock. A piece of cardboard cannot do that. Also, I am pretty sure that you can't just push all the tumblers (or whatever those little bars inside the lock are called) down: they need to be held at exactly the right height, and that is different for each tumbler on each lock.

Also, I'm not looking for more videos. Those are easy to fake, and usually are not about Kensingtons (note that the above video never shows the lock mechanism itself). Tell me if you have been able to defeat a Kensington lock, or at least if you have seen it done in person.

After all, why do vending machine companies feel safe securing their cashbox with similar lock mechanisms if they are so easily picked? If that were the case, I couldn't imagine that there would be any vending machines on any campus.

I'm not saying it is not possible. But I have yet to see actual proof, nor have my limited tests had any success. Anyone know otherwise?


P.S. As for the usefulness of locking cables, let me just preempt that as well. No, a security cable is not for leaving your laptop unattended in the middle of Central Park for a week. It is for temporarily securing a piece of hardware such that a thief of opportunity can't just walk off with it. Basically, it's function is to require that a thief:
  1. have to be prepared with tools
  2. have know-how to defeat the lock
  3. have to make a spectacle of themselves while they steal it
  4. have to take some time doing it
  5. have to damage the slot or otherwise make it evident that the hardware was stolen
While YOU may not need a lock for your personal situation, they are used to great effect by many people for many purposes. Even if they can be picked. (And no, I have no relationship to Kensington.)
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,698
624
Location Location Location
I think as long as you push down the pins inside, you can open it.

The guy in the video is wrong. The Bic pen trick works, but you're supposed to use the cap. The guy in the video is just an idiot if he actually tried to open the lock with a frackin pen. :p Google it.

All you need is the cap of a Bic pen, because coincidentally, the opening has the same diameter as the lock and key. They may have changed the diameter of the lock, though. I guess it's difficult to find a unique diameter for the lock. There's always going to be something out there that will perfectly fit their lock.
 

Kwyjibo

macrumors 68040
Nov 5, 2002
3,809
0
I think as long as you push down the pins inside, you can open it.

The guy in the video is wrong. The Bic pen trick works, but you're supposed to use the cap. The guy in the video is just an idiot if he actually tried to open the lock with a frackin pen. :p Google it.

All you need is the cap of a Bic pen, because coincidentally, the opening has the same diameter as the lock and key. They may have changed the diameter of the lock, though. I guess it's difficult to find a unique diameter for the lock. There's always going to be something out there that will perfectly fit their lock.

The way I learned this trick was to cut the end of the pen and it will fit in the lock perfectly ... oh yeah I did it a few times in combination with a prank so I'm perfectly confident it works this way, probably your way as well. And the nature of plastic being somewhat flexible makes it a great tool in this context.

Oh yeah ... and you would have minimal luck using the insurance policy kensington promises if the lock is compromised because ... well there would be little evidence that the lock has been tampered with, especially not enough to warrant an insurance payout.
 

juanm

macrumors 68000
May 1, 2006
1,619
3,049
Fury 161
You know what would be funny (as a prank)?
Stealing a Mac attached with a kensington lock, and replacing it with an apple (the fruit) or with a p-p-p-powerbook...

Sorry, 4:18 AM, I just woke up, and I cannot sleep...
 

zioxide

macrumors 603
Dec 11, 2006
5,737
3,726
Probably, but if the thief is really determined they'll just cut the cable.

Kensington locks are only effective against opportunists, not determined thieves.
 

Toe

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 25, 2002
1,101
2
After some further review, I am now realizing that Kensington themselves have mixed opinions of their own security cables.

I never noticed this before, but they have different "security ratings" for their products.

A cable with the lowest rating has the sort of lock that is shown being picked in videos.

A cable with the highest rating has a traditional key shape. It also has higher-grade steel in the cable, meaning it might take more than a one-hand wire-cutter to get through that cable.

Who knew?
 

Sandman619

macrumors newbie
Aug 7, 2007
24
5
San Diego, CA
A qualified locksmith

Yes you can pick the Kensington locks & that’s a good thing. I locked-up my MacBook Pro, not realizing that I had reset the combo & after turning the tumblers. Kensington customer service advises you to contact a bonded locksmith. It took the locksmith at least a half hour to go through the combinations until it released. My observation was that while he was able to use standard locksmith tools & methodology to open my lock, it was not an easy task. The new MacBook Pro design uses the external lock to lock the entire computer’s components within the casing. I couldn’t have removed the battery, hard drive or memory without unlocking this lock

Cheers !
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
68,682
36,441
Boston
Why pick it when you can easily cut it, or even if you're that desperate, rip it out.
 
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