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Kensington Laptop Locks Not So Secure 526

Posted by timothy
from the neither-is-anything dept.
eric434 writes "According to a security alert released by Security.Org, the Kensington laptop lock that many of us use and love isn't secure. In fact, it can be opened in 30 seconds after about a minute of practice with a $1 worth of equipment. (A Bic pen, and a pair of scissors. In the interest of giving people some time to stop using the locks, the actual method of opening the lock is left up to the reader.) To make matters worse, Kensington's 'We'll give you $1500 if someone steals your laptop' guarantee doesn't apply -- because the process of opening the lock doesn't damage the lock or cable." Mind the source, though -- security.org wouldn't mind selling you a book on locks and safes.
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Kensington Laptop Locks Not So Secure

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  • by sloshr (608388) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:24PM (#9917099)
    sooo... if you steal my laptop, please take the cable and lock, so I can still get my $1500...
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:25PM (#9917110)
    We'll give you $1500 if someone steals your laptop' guarantee doesn't apply -- because the process of opening the lock doesn't damage the lock or cable.

    After your lock has been cleanly picked, go to your local Home Depot, get a cable cutter and cut the cable yourself. Make sure you make a real mess of it. Then send back to Kensington and claim the $1500.
    • Except you're required to file a police report. Are you willing to file an incorrect police report to get your laptop replaced?
      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:47PM (#9917235)
        A lot of product insurance contracts, notably cell phone replacement plans, require the filing of a police report but one can usually get past this by simply being stubborn and simply demanding your refund/replacement. I find that the long pause on the phone after they remind you of the police report requirement is often effective in getting them to drop the troublesome requirement in the name of "better customer service". After all if they get a reputation for hassling claimants then nobody will buy those warranty replacement plans anymore because "it isn't worth the hassle." With warranty replacement plans everything can be negotiated if you are persistent enough.
        • Yeah, but this is $1500, not a cell phone that costs $50 plus a lot more if they don't lose you as a customer. Filing a false police report is equivalent to perjury.

          • by B747SP (179471) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:21AM (#9917672)
            Filing a false police report is equivalent to perjury

            Who said anything about perjury? Your laptop got stolen, didn't it? So go report that your laptop got stolen. Refer my previous post - the coppers couldn't give a flying fire-truck *how* your laptop got stolen, they won't ask, and they *REALLY* don't want to hear about it (they already heard the same story a dozen times today from folks who just *needed* to tell *someone* and assumed that cops cared). Be a good citizen, give the cops the info they need for their statistics, and be on your way. It's easier for everyone that way.

            'course if your laptop *didn't* get stolen and you're reporting that it did - well that's a whole different kettle of fish.

          • woah there... cell phones don't cost $50. They might cost *you* $50 if you're a good customer or a new customer but they're worth many times more than that and subsidized to get you on board.

            In general, the prices offered by major wireless carriers are meaningless. If you want to know what a cell phone is worth, try buying a new, unlocked (use on any carrier, thus not subsidized) phone of recent vintage from an independant shop - you won't find much for $50
        • What's the problem with filing a police report. It's not like the cops care, you just rock up... "Whaddya want?" "My laptop got stolen" "Where from? Name? Got serial number? Here's your reference number. NEXT!".

          The magic reference number (which is what they hand out in the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is) Australia) is all you need to satisfy the insurance claim. You get extra bonus points if you know the copper's name and can write that on the form too, but it's not required.

  • by methangel (191461) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:26PM (#9917119)
    Just because the cable and the lock were not damaged does not mean that the lock and cable actually did the job correctly! Kensington should pay the warranty claim out since it was obviously ineffective in actually securing the device.

    If you use this Kensington lock and your laptop gets jacked, use a pair of bolt cutters and damage your cable before filing your claim.
    • by weiyuent (257436) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:41PM (#9917199) Journal
      Just because the cable and the lock were not damaged does not mean that the lock and cable actually did the job correctly! Kensington should pay the warranty claim out since it was obviously ineffective in actually securing the device.

      If your laptop, bike, etc ever gets stolen and you try to claim the compensation money from the lock manufacturer, you will find that there are many restrictions on actually getting that money. That is because, as with any other insurance scheme, many unscrupulous people try to get the compensation money by dishonest means. So some genuine theft victims will be deprived of their deserved compensation, whereas other scammers might get away with the money. By and large, though, the majority of consumers are justly rewarded.
  • 1500 dollers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by satanicat (239025) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:27PM (#9917124)
    well. . I mean I guess it wouldnt matter to me wheather it was a len or a wire cutter. 1500 dollers might cover a good portion of the hardware costs, but usually the information on the drive itself is far more sensitive. What they need is a lock that causes the computer to self distruct.=) it not only protects the programmer, but teaches the thief a good lesson!
    • Re:1500 dollers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:46PM (#9917230)
      well. . I mean I guess it wouldnt matter to me wheather it was a len or a wire cutter. 1500 dollers might cover a good portion of the hardware costs, but usually the information on the drive itself is far more sensitive. What they need is a lock that causes the computer to self distruct.=) it not only protects the programmer, but teaches the thief a good lesson!

      Australian Defence Force laptops (all thinkpads, that I've seen) have this. Try to break in and various parts of the laptop burst into flame.

      See how easy it is getting data off a hard drive that's protected by a lithium/oxygen lock.
    • Re:1500 dollers (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheLink (130905)
      Backup data and use encryption e.g. pgpdisk, drivecrypt.

      To prevent nontargeted theft, make your PC very distinctive. This reduces the "fencing" price significantly. If they obviously can't sell it to a fence they won't even bother touching it. Get/Pay an artist to make it permanently distinctive AND look nice at the same time.

      But if you really want to teach the thief a lesson, try semtex and a pager. You may wish to make sure it only blows up on a particular pager message and not because of a wrong number

    • How about a fake battery pack which is actually a couple of pounds of high-explosive?

      Of course, it carries a risk to the legitimate user who forgets that the fake pack is connected...

  • Wire Cutters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:27PM (#9917125)
    Wouldn't a simple pair of wirecutters do the trick to begin with? I don't think you have to be McGuyver to get through those locks.
    • Re:Wire Cutters (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcain (765708) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:31PM (#9917150)
      Have you seen one of these cables? They are actually quite thick and strong, so wirecutters would not have any effect other than slicing the outer skin.

      However, I'm sure there are tools for this job available at your local Home Depot or other hardware emporium. Just remember to make the cut nice and messy.
      • Re:Wire Cutters (Score:5, Interesting)

        by merlin_jim (302773) <{moc.tlupatarts} {ta} {nekcarCcM.semaJ}> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:10PM (#9917357)
        I've worked with steel wire a bit in the past doing chainmail for SCA stuff. Graduated into chainmail jeweler, then just plain jeweler.

        The particular wire they use is a strandad high tensile strength steel. The individual strands are probably 12-16 guage, the cable as a whole cladding included might be 4 guage.

        To cut 16 guage half-soft steel wire takes a medium sized pair of bolt cutters and a lot of elbow grease. You could PROBABLY worry the cable through with those, but because you can't close the jaws on each individual strand, it's going to be more of a sawing motion.

        To get through that cable you'll need a pair of bolt cutters whose jaws are large enough that the entire cable fits between them with no more than a 15-20 degree angle. And the leverage is going to be immense; 2-3 feet at least.

        Not exactly a tool you could fit in your pocket :) The tool *is* available, you can probably find it for under $20. Most every hardware store will have one. They're used in construction to do exactly what the name implies; cut bolts :)
        • Re:Wire Cutters (Score:5, Informative)

          by madfgurtbn (321041) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:25PM (#9917418)
          The tool *is* available, you can probably find it for under $20. Most every hardware store will have one. They're used in construction to do exactly what the name implies; cut bolts :)

          Actually, bolt cutters aren't very good at cutting cables. What you need are cable cutters, which have more of a hooked scissors or shears type of head. The head of a cable cutter resembles the beak of a predator bird, actually; probably for a good reason.

          Bolt cutters are designed to cut a single solid piece of metal, so they are not effective at cutting the many strands of a cable. The cable kinda squashes and the individual strands are too flexible for a bolt cutter.

          Bolt cutters will work, eventually, but the right tool for the job is a cable cutter.

    • No, dumbass (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:35PM (#9917170)
      A simple pair of wirecutters would not remove the locking cylinder.

      The point of the Kensington lock is not so much to secure the laptop to something as to ruin the resale value of it by virtue of the damage likely to occur to the laptop if the lock is forcibly removed.

      This hack apparently allows the lock cylinder itself to be cleanly removed, rendering the lock useless and giving the thief a laptop to sell that doesn't scream out "Look at this torn-off case plastic! I was stolen!"
  • by Engineer Andy (761400) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:28PM (#9917126) Journal
    For the sake of those who thought to RTFA, the article gets you to email the author regarding the details of the exploit.

    Extract from article:
    You may contact the author for further details as to the method of entry. All computer owners and administrators should be aware of the potential for theft if you utilize this device. The full details of how to compromise this device are contained in LSS+ Version 5.0 Multimedia edition of Locks, Safes, and Security. Kensington may be contacted for further information at 800-535-4242. The company was notified of the problem by the author on July 13, 2004 and has refused to comment on or acknowledge the problem, or to return any telephone calls or e-mails. The author believes that the manufacturer can remedy the problem and should be required to do so. All purchasers of this device may wish to request a replacement from the manufacturer that prevents this form of bypass.
    • Here's how (Score:5, Informative)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday August 09, 2004 @05:14AM (#9918537) Journal
      Hmm... I can't believe it took this long for this 'exploit' to surface. Any geek with a laptop, some boredom and a paperclip should have figured this out already.

      Anyhoo: what you need is a pair of scissors and a paperclip. if you have no scissors, a second paperclip will work, if not so well.

      Jam one point of the scissors into the rectangular hole on the circumference of the circular key slot. Twist the scissors so that the inner part of the lock turns into the 'open' direction. Keep applying a gentle pressure, and use the paperclip to push in the little pins in the circular groove, one by one. Push down lightly and slowly until you feel the pin 'snap'. If you release the pin, it should be held in place and not spring back up again. If it does, just try first with another pin. Eventually you'll get them all and the lock will turn open. You can close the lock again in the same way.

      Some of these locks have a security feature... when you've twisted the cilinder halfway to the 'open' position, it will lock again. In this case you'll need both points of the scissor to apply torque to the lock cilinder.

      This isn't hard... with some practice, you can open these locks in a minute or 2. We used to do this at the office, going around during luch break to swap everyone's Kensington locks around, then watch the frustration at the end of the day, as everyone discovered that their key did not fit anymore. I know, it's lame, but we were bored okay?

      I don't have any qualms about revealing the 'secret' of Kensington lock picking, as I would have with revealing a hot new exploit. This trick is years old, and asa I said: any bored person with a paper clip can figure this out for himself.
      • by glesga_kiss (596639) on Monday August 09, 2004 @08:18AM (#9919043)
        Jam one point of the scissors into the rectangular hole on the circumference of the circular key slot. Twist the scissors so that the inner part of the lock turns into the 'open' direction. Keep applying a gentle pressure, and use the paperclip to push in the little pins in the circular groove, one by one. Push down lightly and slowly until you feel the pin 'snap'. If you release the pin, it should be held in place and not spring back up again. If it does, just try first with another pin. Eventually you'll get them all and the lock will turn open.

        That just sounds like normal lock-picking to me. Here is an article [howstuffworks.com] on the technique that is describing pretty much the same thing on a more traditional yale-style key.

        Great. I've just taught serveral thousand geeks how to lock-pick... ;-)

  • by Commander Spock (796626) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:28PM (#9917132)
    I just arrived home from an out-of-state family reunion, where I had my ThinkPad locked to a picnic table with a Kensington lock, to find out that my computer was not nearly as secure as I would have thought. My wife points out that there were pens and scissors there, too! They could have taken my preciousssss!
  • by methangel (191461) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:29PM (#9917138)
    Does this mean I can get a Powerbook to replace the Tandy 286 laptop I have sitting in my closet?
  • by anactofgod (68756) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:31PM (#9917148)
    I saw MacGyver do this years ago.

    And *he* didn't need the scissors.

    ---anactofgod---
  • by Snagle (644973) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:33PM (#9917162)
    Kensington should start selling a lock for their laptop lock! Money in the bank if you ask me...
  • Hmm..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 (534739) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:34PM (#9917165) Homepage Journal
    I've seen those computer "locks" on the back of computers that need those special round keys. They replace screws to try to prevent someone from opening the case. What I found over time when working with them, is that you can just use a set of small pliers to twist them off. Not very secure at all.
    • Re:Hmm..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glesga_kiss (596639)
      Most common locks are like most security proceedures in general, i.e. mostly a deterrent. You can pretty much always get in if you are willing to spend the time or energy on the target.

      Plus, if you use pliers to open a lock like this, it will be visible, giving away the fact that there has been unauthorized access. A similar idea I've heard of is gluing a hard-drive cable to the motherboard and hd. You could get it off and access the data, but you can't do it without being noticed.

  • by gellenburg (61212) <george@ellenburg.org> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:36PM (#9917176) Homepage Journal
    Most laptop locks are insecure.

    Back in 2000 I had one of those Kensington motion sensing laptop locks which gave off this ear-piercing noise if anyone moved the device.

    Thing was so insecure that I was playing with it in the airport on a business trip one day and I realized all I had to do was to push the pin inwards and it immediately came off.

    Sure, the alam went off too, but it still wouldn't have stopped someone from jetting away and stealing the bag or laptop.

    Now, I secure both my laptops (work and personal) the old fashioned way. I never let them leave my sight or I lock them in a locker or the trunk of my car.

    Physical controls can't beat plain common sense sometimes when it comes to the security of your personal belongings.

    Neer leave a laptop bag in the front-seat or rear-seat of your car iwhere it's in plain sight. That's just begging for someone to smash your window and steal it.

    Also, don't carry your laptop around in one of those $200 leather laptop cases. I use a backpack. Sure, it was designed for a laptop but it doesn't look like it was. Maybe I have gym shoes and a change of clothes in there, or maybe I have an iBook, iPod, spare battery, Tréo 600, Passport, etc.

    Then again, maybe I don't.
    • by jpatters (883) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:40PM (#9917193)
      I carry around my gym shoes and a change of clothes in a $200 leather laptop case. That'll show 'em.
      • A couple years ago I was spending the weekend in Montreal and had left an empty laptop bag in my back seat. The next morning I came out to find the car window had been broken... I spent a little while trying to figure out what they had taken before realizing they probably looked inside the bag, got pissed off and threw it back in the car!!!

        It was a very cold and noisy drive home and cost a few hundred bucks to fix though :-(
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:43PM (#9917216)
      Thing was so insecure that I was playing with it in the airport on a business trip one day and I realized all I had to do was to push the pin inwards and it immediately came off.

      I had one of these and they're a waste of $70.

      Here's another good one: pick the thing up very very slowly, so it doesn't start screaming, lift it about 10" off the table, then slam it flat on the table, battery down, as hard as you can. The motion sensor will be busted right out and the thing won't peep a sound. If, by some misfortune, it does start beeping, press your thumb real hard against the hole underneath, where the piezo is, to silence it.

      These things are crap, honestly. Stay away from it...
      • Mine had a 3-option sensitivity setting. At it's most sensitive it would go off over nothing.

        In the least sensitive setting you had to tilt it 45 degrees before it would go off.

        In the middle it wasn't too bad, but it was still tilt sensitive -- I lifted it straight up, unscrewed the battery case, removed the batteries (to expose the unit's screws), then unscrewed it and reset it to a known code after a friend of mine decided to change it on me.

        I could have just smashed it I guess, but that wouldn't have
      • Uhhh, after slamming it like that - you probably have to buy a new notebook, so what is the point?
    • Also, don't carry your laptop around in one of those $200 leather laptop cases. I use a backpack. Sure, it was designed for a laptop but it doesn't look like it was. Maybe I have gym shoes and a change of clothes in there, or maybe I have an iBook, iPod, spare battery, Tréo 600, Passport, etc

      Amen to that. I made the mistake of using a laptop bag to carry around my school books for a while. Left it in my backseat overnight and got my window busted out. Yeah, they didnt get away with a laptop, but I

    • by DaveJay (133437) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:59PM (#9917304)
      >or I lock them in a locker or the trunk of my car

      Don't try the trunk of your car in Chicago, even in the good neighborhoods. I've had windows broken and trunks entered for a duffel bag with a schoolhouse rock video tape. I've had trunks punched open with a screwdriver for some books. I once caught two kids in my car trying to pry an $18 tape player from under the dash. Hell, I once even left my car -- with nothing in it to steal, AND THE WINDOWS ALL HALFWAY DOWN -- and someone still punched a hold through the door skin to open the *unlocked* door with the *open* window.
      • Trunk of your car is better than nothing in Chicago, though, and certainly better than the front seat. As long as they don't know there's anything in the trunk, they're less likely to hit your car.

        Especially if you drive a beater that looks like it couldn't possibly have anything valuable in it, and leave it in a good neighborhood with lots of Jettas and SUVs and expensive crap. (coughLincolnParkcough).

        On the other hand, I've sat with the owners and watched their 300k mile, damn near dead, Chevy Nova ge
      • by Omerna (241397) <clbrewer@gmail.com> on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:04AM (#9917607) Homepage
        I call BS. Whenever I steal a car I ALWAYS try the handle first. All good thieves do.
      • by Technician (215283) on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:14AM (#9917651)
        I knew a radio operator that had an amplifier that used a seprate 1500 volt power supply. The vehicle was locked and the equipment was properly marked Danger High Voltage and Lock out remote power supply before servicing. Because it was properly marked and locked, the judge threw out the manslaughter case against the amature radio operator by the family of the deceased.
        You shouldn't try cutting 1.5KV cables with a pocketknife when the supply is still on.

        It's not as bad in my car. The Hybrid battery is only 264 volts nominal and the 1KW inverter is 120 volts. I don't recommend messing with either while the power is on. The inverter is on most of the time. I plug the computer into it to charge batteries while on the road. I seldom bother to shut it off since its nominal unloaded draw is just a few mA.
  • by MagicDude (727944) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:40PM (#9917191)
    A Bic pen, and a pair of scissors...

    Damn you MacGyver!!
  • I'm curious... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weiyuent (257436) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:49PM (#9917249) Journal
    ...about the durability of the slot where one inserts the standard laptop locks. Though I'm not about to try it myself, I imagine that one could easily shear the lock off with the right amount of leverage and separate it from the laptop. Now it might take a bit of work to repair the chassis to re-saleable condition, but it's still possible, no?

  • by HonkyLips (654494) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @10:50PM (#9917262)
    This reminds me of one of my favourite pieces of Australian TV.
    I'm sure you are all familiar with steering wheel locks, the most well known in Australia is called a Club Lock.
    A magazine called "Choice", which reviews and tests products, reviewed all available steering wheel locks and claimed that the Club Lock could be defeated in less than 30 seconds by someone with no experience at car theft.
    The manufacturer responded by modifying and improving the lock mechanism, but the magazine repeated their claim that it could be defeated easily.
    This went on for about 4 generations of Club Lock and saw the introduction of a "star shaped" key to making picking the locks "impossible", as well as other developments. But Choice maintained that the Club Lock had not been fixed and anyone could defeat it in under a minute.
    A local TV current affairs show filmed a carpark showdown between the manufacturer of the Club Lock and a reporter from the magazine, as the manufacturer prepared to release their latest model and the magazine claimed it would be able to defeat it in less than 30 seconds.
    They were screaming at each other in a car park and honestly looked like they were going to hit each other. The manufacturer claimed (in near hysteria) that it was impossible for someone to pick their locks, and that the magazines claims were wrong. The magazine denied this, and so were challenged to demonstrate their claim on TV.
    A brand new model Club Lock was placed on a car steering wheel.
    The magazine reporter got in the car, grabbed it, and gave it a good hard yank, and it came off easily.
    The manufacturer went very very quiet.

    The funny thing about this - and the reason I remember it - was that the people who made Club Locks never asked the magazine HOW they'd been defeating their product. They all assumed that the locks had been picked. Practically all the improvements they made to the product over 4 years were in improving the lock mechanism. They never expected that the piece of metal which hooks around the steering wheel was so weak it could be easily bent. They shouldv'e thought laterally.
    Anyway it was very funny. Trust me, I still remember it and it was about 15 years ago.

    • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:06PM (#9917337)
      Not to mention that steering wheels are actually pretty soft. If you've ever seen one of the crash-tests in slow-motion, the steering wheel looks like a rubber band during the impact. They're designed to be soft so as not to impale you when you're in an accident.

      If a crook wants past your club, they can just cut through the steering wheel and remove the club.

      I've seen a different sort of club-type device on TV that hooks around the brake pedal. Looks like a better product to use anyway.
    • by FroBugg (24957) on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:04AM (#9917611) Homepage
      The Club may be pretty easy to defeat, but it still takes more time and equipment than stealing any other random car.

      I drive a very common and not very valuable car (Ford Focus), and when I put my Club on I don't even bother to lock it. All I'm counting on is a thief noticing it and deciding he'd rather steal the Clubless car next to mine.

      It's like the two guys running from the bear. I don't have to outrun the bear, just the other guy. With my car, I don't have to defeat the crook. I just have to be tougher than the car beside mine.
  • So what lock to buy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Unregistered (584479) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#9917309)
    I have a powerbook. what loc should i buy if the Kensington one sucks?
  • by DiscoBobby (196458) * on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:00PM (#9917310)
    Look, laptop locks are psychological blocks, not physical blocks. If you can't hork a cablelock out of a plastic laptop case in less than 15 seconds you don't deserve to steal that laptop.

    They keep honest people honest. They're speedbumps for the pros. Don't leave you leptop alone!
  • by Anti_Climax (447121) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:02PM (#9917318)
    Most of the hardware at my high school was locked down to the desks using cable locks, but the mechanism used to attach it was certainly inferior to the kensington type.

    Basically, there was a metal reciever that was screwed into a rubber/plastic pad that is epoxied to the hardware you want to keep. The cable is slipped through the reciever and then locked to a suitably heavy piece of cheap furniture, while the other end was to large to pass though the reciever However, since the unlocked end was not attached to anything, you simply slacked the cable, then passed the end under and around to unscrew the reciever from the epoxied pad.

    It wouldn't have worked if it was riveted instead of screwed, but then again, it's a really a deterrent in the end.
    • Deterrence is basically what it comes down to. We use similarly worthless locks at the university I work at. I mean if I brought tools with me, I could cut those cables in seconds, no problem. However, that's not really our concern. That's not very likely, insurance covers it, and there's a high probability of the theif getting beat the fuck up. The reason we lock them is so that if someone happens to be alone in a lab on those rare occasions they aren't busy, they don't decide to grab a computer and walk o
  • Wewt! (Score:4, Informative)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:02PM (#9917320)
    I got it, I think! It's a tubular lock, but a damn big one with weak springs. Use the scissors as a torque wrench to apply constant turning pressure. Use the pen to push in the individual pins. Very weak lock.
  • by CHaN_316 (696929) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:06PM (#9917341)
    Just use the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause and ban bic pens, and scissors! I'm sure this follows the spirit of the law, and totally what the legislators intended the DMCA for. Enforcement of this ban should be pretty easy as well...
  • by jacobdp (698004) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:09PM (#9917350)
    I just leave my crappy old 150mhz Toshiba next to a few friends' Powerbooks.

    Problem solved.

  • by httpamphibio.us (579491) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:12PM (#9917365)
    From the Kensington product description page [kensington.com] linked in the article:

    Guarantees replacement of any locked laptop that's stolen

    Sounds pretty specific, huh? ANY locked laptop that's stolen... Which is quite different than what it says when you click the warranty link [kensington.com] on the page...

    If theft of your laptop computer results from the Kensington Guaranteed Notebook Replacement MicroSaver computer lock being broken or opened by forceful means Kensington Technology Group will pay you the replacement value of your laptop up to US $1,500.00.

    It goes on to say:

    Kensington Technology Group will NOT be liable if the theft occurred because: ... ... D. The laptop was stolen by any means other than violating or breaking the Kensington brand Guaranteed Notebook Replacement MicroSaver Lock.

    Now... that seems pretty vague to me. Are they talking specifically about the locking device? Or are they talking about the entire thing and calling it the Guaranteed Notebook Replacement MicroSaver Lock because that's the name of the product? Vague vague vague...
  • by sublimespot (265560) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:23PM (#9917407)
    Why pick on Kensington?

    Anyone who knows how to pick a lock can open most locks with 5 cents worth of equipment: a couple bent paperclips. Lets write a big story about how all these locks are weak.

    So what? The lock is pickable; so are most other locks.

    Unless the big story here is about the warrany. The fact they knew the lock is weak, so they worded the warranty in a way to avoid paying up.

  • by mr_rangr (311899) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:27PM (#9917432)
    Kryptonite has a similar warranty. Though if your bike is stolen, they often steal the lock, as well, leaving you with no evidence of a broken/compromised lock. So bike messengers will keep a spare Kryptonite lock. If their bike is stolen, they beat the crap out of the lock, busting it open, and then use this busted lock to claim their warranty.
  • Lock Picking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dicepackage (526497) * <{dicepackage} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:30PM (#9917442) Homepage
    In the Summer 2004 issue of 2600 Magazine there is an article on lock picking with less common types of picks. They talk about how to pick a lock with a pen, bobbe pin, sciccors, and everyones favorite the paperclip.
  • by jpetts (208163) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:43PM (#9917503)
    When in doubt, use brute force. -- Ken Thompson
  • by huchida (764848) on Sunday August 08, 2004 @11:44PM (#9917508)
    ... Well, they are, but any thief intent to steal a laptop-- and who is prepared and has the equiptment ready to do the job-- will probably get away with it. This implies some forethought, though. Ask anyone who's owned a bicycle in NYC... There is no lock that can't be broken.

    What locks ARE good for, is deterring the casual thief. Someone who spots a notebook untattended in a library, a cafe, an office, sees that no one around... And grabs it. They're not likely to pick a lock or cut a cable. Since this is far, far more likely-- unless someone is really casing you for the info. on the computer-- it does make sense to use a lock.

  • by prockcore (543967) on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:24AM (#9917691)
    I subscribe to the famous "If I can't have it, no one can" theory.

    If I see an unguarded locked laptop, I dump a cup of coffee onto the keyboard.

    Ok, not really.. but I wonder if anyone does this. I remember Denial of Service was a huge thing to do in highschool. People would beat the shit out of random combination locks on peoples lockers, you couldn't get your locker open. Bastards.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:59AM (#9917804) Journal
    If you lock a laptop up tight enough but don't watch it, someone may just stuck a pencil thru your LCD to spite you. That's what I would do if I were in a pissy mood and unable to steal your laptop that I was otherwise planning on taking (which I wasn't, if you were wondering.)

    Better you just let the a-hole take it and get some some use out of it, I'd say.

    On the other hand, if you are actually watching it (I mean, who locks a laptop and leaves it somewhere?) prolly nothing will happen to it.

    This is analogous to the $500 damage someone does to your car to pull a stereo that has a $20 street value.

    I am just rambling now... but what good is a laptop cable anyhow? Seems to me you have a couple of scenarios; A cable might work if you don't quite trust your roommate or his friends, I guess. Otherwise, forget it. You are in a "safe" environment, or not.

    Bottom line, if you leave something valuable where folks might steal that something, it will get stolen, sooner or later.

    I know, I've had much damage done to cars for little apparent gain for the thief. On the other hand I leave "tens of dollars" worth (but no more) of stuff on the sand when I am at the beach (add it up - towel(s), backpack, sunscreen...) with no ill results, so I am not totally paranoid, but not stupid either.

    • I've had much damage done to cars for little apparent gain for the thief.

      I used to keep a flashlight in my glove box (needed it for my job). Then, one of the local crackheads coat-hangared his way into my car and stole it.

      I replaced the flashlight and not too long after that it was stolen again. This happened three or four more times until I got fed up and locked the glove box. Bad move. Next morning, my dash board was busted up and the flash light gone.

      I presume that the crackhead needed the ligh

    • If you lock a laptop up tight enough but don't watch it, someone may just stuck a pencil thru your LCD to spite you. That's what I would do if I were in a pissy mood and unable to steal your laptop that I was otherwise planning on taking (which I wasn't, if you were wondering.)

      Better you just let the a-hole take it and get some some use out of it, I'd say

      I'd rather have a damaged laptop and get to keep my data.

    • If you lock a laptop up tight enough but don't watch it, someone may just stuck a pencil thru your LCD to spite you.

      Replacing the LCD is a lot cheaper than having your business competitor scrolling through your 5-year business strategy, or some swarthy individual gloating over his newest acquisition from the Los Alamos on-campus diner.

      At least have OpenOffice on it.
  • how to do it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by austad (22163) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:15AM (#9917854) Homepage
    I have played with one of these locks, and they are not made well. I assume the guts of them are not machined to very close tolerances. Locks that are not machined well are vulnerable to picking much easier.

    If you look at the lock, you'll see a center thing that rotates. Open the scissors slightly, put one end into the notch on the center thingy, and the other end somewhere into the circular groove surrounding the center. Inside the groove are tiny pins... Apply a slight turning force on the scissors, and then use the Bic pen to poke each pin until they snap into place. You may have to poke each one multiple times because only one will be able to fall into place at a time, and you won't know which one because each lock has different tolerances due to they quality of manufacturing.

    You can actually buy devices that do this all for you through lockpicking sites. However, I think the kensington lock is a bit smaller, and the commercial ones probably will not fit.

    In any case, the lock is still a deterrent. I used to work in downtown minneapolis. Around christmas time, laptop thefts in our office would go up dramatically. Theives would get dressed up, and walk into the office like they were supposed to be there, and then just grab one and leave. Because there were people everywhere, spending 30 seconds doing something shady to a laptop lock is probably not something they would want to do. Especially since there were plenty of non-locked machines laying around.
  • by robnauta (716284) on Monday August 09, 2004 @03:53AM (#9918329)
    A colleague of mine has a kensington key that can open any lock. He claims to have bought it in Asia. But it works, he opened my laptop lock plus the lock on the LCD monitor on the desk with his key. The laptop key was in my pocket and the LCD lock keys are locked in a managers office. I have no doubts it'll work on any lock.

    After all, it's not a really secure lock like a cylinder, the number of combinations of the impressions on the rim of a key is limited so I guess there are only a few different lock combinations. Anyone could buy a Kensington and get one with the same key as yours.

  • by Penguin (4919) on Monday August 09, 2004 @03:58AM (#9918345) Homepage
    Why not just strap a bra around the laptop?

    That would at least prevent male thieves from stealing the laptop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2004 @07:59AM (#9918969)
    Instead of locking the laptop to a desk or table, loop the cable around a body part - preferably a body part where constriction will not kill you (neck = bad, waist=good). When you stand up to walk away, the laptop will be dragged along with you.

    This also serves as a work-around for many short term memeory disorders - answering once and for all the age old question of: crickey, where did I leave my laptop?

    Next week we will tackle the problem of leaving valuable files in insecure filing cabinets. (hint: think backpack)
  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday August 09, 2004 @12:51PM (#9921199)
    If your data is important to you, back it up somewhere. If it is sensitive, encrypt it.

    If you want to be reimbursed for your laptop if it is stolen, buy an insurance policy to cover it.

    Yes, it might cost a bit more than a "good" lock, but not a lot more (my girlfriend insured her PowerBook for two years for $90), and you're guaranteed to get your laptop back if it is stolen. Or if it burns in a fire -- let's see your Kensington warranty cover that. Just make sure your policy gives you "replacement cost," not just "market value." And back up your friggin' data!

    Seriously, why bother with a lock?

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