Hasta la vista security: this 3D-printed robot can break padlocks in 30 seconds

The Combo Breaker
Padlock hacking on demand.

If the Terminator storyline ever becomes reality, the birth of Skynet will probably start with small and simple robots made at home - such as ones that can break locks after just a few seconds of work.

Hacker and software consultant Samy Kamkar has shown off just such a robot - which he's calling Combo Breaker - on his website. It's based around an Arduino board and uses some parts made in a 3D printer.

The Combo Breaker uses a vulnerability in Master Lock padlocks that Kamkar recently discovered himself: it essentially brute forces the lock in the same way a software bot could try millions of passwords to find the right one.

Lock of the draw

The lock-picking trick actually relies on a manufacturing flaw in low-end Master Lock devices, where slight changes in resistance reveal the combination. Presumably it's a flaw that can be eradicated - so we're safe from the machines for now.

Still, it's a reminder of how quickly both 3D-printing and robotics are progressing, and the various security concerns they raise as a result. Master Lock does rate its products in terms of their security protection, and the models involved only score a 3.

"The moral is pretty simple," says Kamkar. "If you're trying to protect valuables in a storage locker, you should probably be using a better lock."

By releasing details of the hack he hopes to get the general public thinking more about their own security - so consider yourselves warned.

Via Wired

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.