A 3D printer can now get you into anyone's suitcase

A 3D printer can now get you into anyone's suitcase

The Transportation Security Administration of the United States is under fire after a group of lockpickers made 3D-printing plans for the master keys that security officers use to screen baggage at airports, from a photo posted on the Internet. Now, anyone can print out a key for themselves.

The TSA's system allows a group of trusted lock-makers to build combination locks that can also be opened with a set of master keys. For years, the system has operated safely, but last month the Washington Post posted a photo of the master keys in an article about how the TSA handles luggage.

The photo was swiftly taken down, but not before it found its way onto a series of other sites. Now, a set of CAD files has been published that lets anybody use a 3D printer to create a key for any TSA lock.

'Quicker To Pick'

Mere hours after publishing, at least one 3D-printer owner had downloaded the files and printed off a plastic key to test for themselves. He published a video shortly afterwards, showing that it worked.

The TSA hasn't commented, but security researchers say that the situation isn't a critical security crisis. Matt Blaze told Wired: "I'm not sure anyone relied on these kinds of locks for serious security purposes," he says. "I find it's actually quicker to pick the TSA's locks than to look for my key sometimes."

Image credit: stevendepolo // CC BY 2.0

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.