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High-security handcuffs not so secure anymore, thanks to 3D-printed keys

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Hacker exposes vulnerability of handcuffs used by law enforcement agencies

At this year's Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference, a hacker who goes by the name Ray proved that high-security handcuffs used by law enforcement agencies could be easily opened by tech-savvy lawbreakers... with a little help from a laser cutter or a 3D printer.

Handcuffs used by law enforcement are typically a lot more secure than the ones you can buy yourself due to the fact that their manufacturers strictly monitor the distribution of their keys. Keys for common handcuffs, on the other hand, can be easily found in various stores. Still, keys for high-security handcuffs can pop up for sale online, and anyone who has the proper tools can copy them in large quantities.

Ray, for instance, made cheap plastic key copies that can unlock handcuffs made by German manufacturer Bonowi and English company Chubb. He got his hands on a more common Chubb key via Ebay and on a rarer Bonowi key through an anonymous source. He used an ordinary laser cutter to make plexiglass copies of the keys, and a 3D printer to make ABS plastic copies — both of which work and could be considered even better than the original, because they can pass safely through metal detectors.

While Ray does plan to upload the Chubb key file to Makerbot's 3D-printing community Thingiverse, he says it was never his goal to make these handcuffs vulnerable — he only wants to spread awareness: "Police need to know that every new handcuff they buy has a key that can be reproduced. Until every handcuff has a different key, they can be copied."

[Image credit: Handcuffs via Shutterstock]
[via The Verge]

This article was written by Mariella Moon and originally appeared on Tecca

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