How secure is Kensington Cable?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by doubledee, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. doubledee macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #1
    When I bought my new cMBP, I also got a Kensington Microsaver Notebook Lock from the online Apple Store.

    I've been thinking...

    How many different key patterns do you think there are?

    For example, if there were only 5 different types of keys, then you'd have a 1 in 5 chance of being able to walk up to any stranger's laptop - with Kensington Cable - and unlock it?!

    Is my cable giving me a false sense of security?

    Sincerely,


    Debbie
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    It will stop the casual person walking by your laptop and grabbing it.

    Anyone determined to get it will easily be able to get. There is very little you can do to secure a laptop
     
  3. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #3
    Please elaborate...


    Debbie
     
  4. chriscl macrumors 6502

    chriscl

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    #4
    Heavy-duty bolt croppers will cut a Kensington lock cable.

    I know this, as we had to cut one when a user forgot their four-digit code to unlock it.
     
  5. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #5
    Wire/Bolt cutters, lockpicking, force.... All ways to get it without a key.
     
  6. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #6
    With the new aluminum unibody design, I am assuming that it is fairly hard to just rip the cable from the body. (At least without making one hell of a scene in public...)


    Debbie
     
  7. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

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    #7
    Correct. Basically if the lock has been ripped away from the laptop there will be extremely noticeable and significant damage to lock area on the Mac's top case. If a thief is looking to steal something in order to sell it then a cable lock will almost always deter them from snatching it (which would look quite violent) due to the damage that would be done to the machine, killing it's resale value.
     
  8. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #8
    What about my original question?

    How many different key/lock combinations do you think Kensington has for my particular model cable lock?

    1? 5? 50? 500? 5000?


    The cable on this one is pretty darn thick, so I'm not really worried about someone cutting it unless they can sneak in a pretty large set of cable cutters into wherever I might be.

    But the trying their key in random cable locks does kind of make me wonder... :confused:

    Sincerely,


    Debbie
     
  9. pdjudd macrumors 601

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    #9
    Well Kensington isn't going to tell you, but perhaps a locksmith can give you an idea. My guess is that it's probably going to be high.
     
  10. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #10
    That's a good idea!

    But if you had to guess, what range would you guess "high" is?


    Debbie
     
  11. pdjudd macrumors 601

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    #11
    Dunno. Probably as many combinations as your average lock would have whatever that may be. If Kensington wanted their locks to be taken seriously on large scale, it going to have to be several hundred possibilities. Its pretty easy for locks of that design to have that many possibilities.

    Honestly though unless any of us happens to be a lock expert, there isn't going to any way our guesses are going to be accurate though.
     
  12. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #12
    Fair enough.


    Debbie
     
  13. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #13
    It really depends on which Kensington lock. There are several versions, some with a key, some with a combination. All of them with a key use a standard pin configuration like any normal padlock. The number of possible keys depends on the number of pins AND the number of positions possible for each pin.

    For instance, with a 5-pin lock, with each pin having 5 possible positions, there would be 3125 possible keys. Bump that up to 7 positions, and that number goes up to 78,125...

    We would need to know WHICH Kensington you have to be more specific.
     
  14. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

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    #14
    There are also the cheaper ones which have a circular hole for the key to fit in,
    amusingly you can often open them with a pen, paper and a bit of tape very quickly. ;)

    The better locks are the ones which use more normal looking keys.
     
  15. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #15
    Do we have a lock picker in our presence?! :eek: ;)


    I thought all laptop cables had tubular/circular keys?

    So, what do you think is the safest way to lock/teether a laptop to protect it when a person can't be standing right next to it?

    Like all things in security, there is usually an approach that protects against most threats...

    Sincerely,


    Debbie
     
  16. rabidz7 macrumors 65816

    rabidz7

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    #16
    Put a sticker on it that says automatic iPhone tracking enabled. Hook up a 1000V 15000Amp DC current to the case. Always be near the laptop.
     
  17. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

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    #17
    What I mean is that the cheap ones like this one can often be easy to open without the key, not to mention that the wires probably pretty easy to cut as well. Versus say something like this, note the different style of key.

    Those were just two I quickly looked up, I'm not saying to buy those particular ones or whether they are bad or good, just pointing out the difference.

    Of-course pretty much any laptop lock of that style can be defeated with some decent bolt cutters, but then thats going to be rather obvious if other people are around. Same goes for someone trying to open the other type lock with a DIY key. My bet is that few people would try to break open any of those locks, its just that as with anything some offer more protection than others.

    Then theres the matter of it only being as secure as the object you are securing it to. ;)
     
  18. macs4nw macrumors 601

    macs4nw

    #18
    And that is precisely, what it's intended for Debbie, to prevent a crime of opportunity. As others have posted, there are many weak links: the lock, the cable, the laptop itself, and not least of all, the item the assembly is attached to. The #of key combinations should probably be the least of your worries. As mentioned before by others, the lock will not stop a determined thief.

    Short of 'parking' a vicious Rottweiler in front of it, absolute security is a pipedream.
     
  19. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #19
    Right, and I'm looking for "As secure as I can reasonably get and still live..."

    I'm always looking for the "weak links" and trying to find a balance.

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

    P.S. Interesting thumbnail... ;)
     
  20. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816

    Dalton63841

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    #20
    The tubular keys are still based on the normal tumbler pin design, just implemented in a different way. They are no more secure than any regular lock.
     
  21. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #21
    Like room temp butter. Kind of scary how easy it is with bolt cutters isn't it.

    Look, any security is only a deterrent. Anyone determined enough will be able to bypass it.

    As my grandfather used to say when I asked him why he locked his doors if they could just smash his window(s), "to keep an honest man honest."
     
  22. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #22
    Agreed, is someone wants that device and its out eye sight of the owner its going to be taken.


    An old friend used to say when locking the doors of his car - to make the thief work for his money :p
     
  23. pmau macrumors 65816

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    #23
    The Kensington Lock is mostly for insurance. We are obligated to use them in our office.

    Frequently people lose the keys. We have a cutter to free them from the desks. Afterwards you just drill into the lock until its broken. Then you can turn it and remove the lock from the laptop.

    All it does is to tell a thief that he probably needs time to steal. Nothing more. And you can tell your insurance company that all equipment uses Kensignton locks connected to their desks.
     
  24. doubledee thread starter macrumors 6502

    doubledee

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    #24
    Interesting take.

    Sincerely,


    Debbie
     
  25. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

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    #25
    There are probably a few hundred key combinations for the Kensingtons but as others have pointed out they can still be defeated with or without a key.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SkKJ4yOKo8

    The idea I would go with is that you want to make it less appealing for someone to snatch when you leave it for a minute in a coffee shop, restaurant, office, etc. If a thief sees a laptop sitting on a table unattended, not locked down with no one paying much attention then they've found their prize. If the same thief sees the same laptop sitting unattended but with a security cable connected to it (key/lock rather than combination lock) then they are going to weigh the decision of "do I snatch it, damaging the laptop and creating a scene", "do I chance trying to break in with some cardboard, tape, etc hoping that no one notices" or "pass, look for another opportunity". Chances are they'll take option 3 and wait for something a lot quicker & easier.
     

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