Schneier on Security
A blog covering security and security technology.
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April 3, 2008
Labyrinth Security Lock
Fascinating. Note that it doesn't make it harder to open the door; it just takes longer.
EDITED TO ADD (1:00 PM): Seems like this is a hoax. Or an art project. Or something. I'm really disappointed; I want one.
Posted on April 3, 2008 at 12:38 PM
• 35 Comments
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Walked into that one!
Check the availability and then look at the manufacturer's website!
Despite being an April Fools joke, one could conceive of security applications that simply increase the time required to pass through an area. Decontamination zones could be one example.
Possibly as an age/intellience/capability lock as well, although we all know how well child-proof caps work...
The release date implies that it was a "collaboration" with ThinkGeek... and does not appear to be in production, but I agree, I want one!
It does offer excellent security in permitting varying distances the door can be open (depending on where you pre-position the chain in the maze).
Child-proof caps work a little too well, I often can't figure out how to open them. :(
In most situations, this is probably a very bad idea -- think about what would happen if there was a fire.
"In most situations, this is probably a very bad idea -- think about what would happen if there was a fire."
The windows, no doubt, are unlocked, what's to worry about? :)
ThinkGeek had their April Fools' page up for most of yesterday, with a generous selection of silly products.
My favorite was the taser/camera that allowed you to tase someone and immediately publish the video to YouTube.
Here's a blog page with links to a selection of Think Geek April 1st products. I also liked the camera/taser.
Also check out the "NSA Mega-encrypted Tee"
Is it just me or does the chain look too short to make it the whole way to the far side of the lock?
Actually, I'd love to have something like that to help customers understand the unintended consequences of well-intentioned (but misguided) requirements. Often, we get security requirements pushed on us that directly conflict with safety design issues.
Maybe I need to go find a metal shop to make something like this.
It isn't even a particularly good maze.
And no mention of David Bowie or Jennifer Connelly anywhere in the product. I am disappointed.
The giveaway for me was the "on weekends only" for "Availability".
Bruce, any machine shop can bang one of these out for you in short order. All you need is a CAD program that outputs to AutoCAD format (almost all of them do), an hour's worth of time to draw the maze; then the rest is handing the CAD file to the machinist, and uttering the magic words-- "Make this happen."
I bet you could have one for about $250 and a week's turnaround.
If you want to get really fancy afterward, you can hand it to a metal plater, and have a chrome finish, or whatever added on.
The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy (home of Otzi the Iceman) has a reproduction of a bronze-age shepard's alpine hut. The hut has a door with a wooden lock mechanism which has a carved labyrinth that a matching "key" has to travel in order to catch a leather thong that unlatches the door. See http://ecommerce.iceman.it/catalog/...
Apparently the Cretan Linear B derivation of "labyrinth" was not from "labrys", but "daburinto" (the Greek language was a little bit different in pre-Classical times).
By the way, is that the inside or outside of the door?
You have to admit it would foil the movie trick where a hitman/burglar uses a magent on the end of a thin pole to unlock the chain :) Of course, the chain being long enough to go through the maze would allow for an awfully large opening.
There is a closely related product that was proposed for putting frames together for pictures, to make them harder to steal.
You would move the front part of the frame in such a way that it would navigate a maze in the back part of the frame with a flanged stud.
Don't know if it was a successfull product. It was not considered a high security application, just as a product to slow people down.
Indeed, it's a pretty boring maze. Perhaps it would more interesting with a few solenoids or something blocking and opening paths as you go. Navigate the ever-changing maze...
I'm working on a personal CNC machine, this seems like an interesting test project.
I always find really difficult to tell whether a geek toy is real or is an April Fools' joke :)
"If Bruce Schneier fell for an April Fools joke, you can be sure he just did it for the irony."
LoL... the chain looks long enough for a skinny date to slip through the opening.
Nothing that a bolt cutter to that wimpy chain couldn't fix in a couple seconds.
One of their products was the "Shrinter" a printer/shredder combination where sensitive/classified printed output went directly into a shredder. I have said for decades that I am surprised that the DoD does not have such.
It's also pretty useless, since the pictured lock actually has no valid solution -- you *can't* open the lock by navigating any path. Yes, I'm a geek. ;-)
I really wanted one when I saw that. Too bad it's a joke.
radiantmatrix: there is a solution
so... one more thing you can expect to find in a girl's handbag: a screwdriver or two :-)
personal note: a normal chain lock malfunctioned, or appeared to anyway, on me once and I had to get a screwdriver and remove the wall plate to get out.
So even before I realised it was a joke, the first thing I looked for was "where are the screws on the doorpost" :)
The irony is that Taser International actually does make a digital camera attachment for its products. It integrates with the battery pack so the weapon cannot be used if it is removed, and it films continuously while the safety catch is off. The purpose is to provide evidence to investigators as to whether the operation of a taser was lawfully justified.
Newer models also record timestamps of each operation, and spray 24 serial-numbered pieces of "confetti" around the incident scene.
Whether joke or not, you almost hit it. I am an artist, I do blacklightmazes for a living, and there is enough mathematics involved in the construction of my mazes to make them useful for encryption purposes. I don't bother mentioning it on my website, people don't go there for the math, but each of my mazes are composed of a thousand or so individual bits, NO TWO OF WHICH ARE IDENTICAL. One of my mazes is almost a single line, the smaller parts could be connected to make it a single line. What you learned in basic geometry was not correct, that "a straight line can be divided into an infinite number of identical points". In the real world there are no straight lines. Draw one with a pencil, look at it under a microscope, and you see that it is not really straight. If you were to use a microscope to draw the line, I would pull out my atomic microscope, and show you that the alignment of atoms and electrons make the concept of a "straight line" entirely theoretical. In real life, the mathematical truth that I use to great effect in my art, is that an irregular line can be divided into an infinite number of irregular points. For your purposes, if digital technology could only capture the irregularities, you could easily produce singular identifiers.
The other famous math I use in my art is the Four Color Map Conjecture. I paint those!
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