That TSA-approved lock on your suitcase just got hacked

If the lock is 'TSA recognized,' the master keys are out there for anyone to copy

It's a basic fact of life that once you publish something on the Internet, it's pretty much impossible to get it back. Now illustrating that point with painful clarity, images of the TSA's master luggage keys have been published online, meaning that anyone with a 3D printer can make their own.

It all started when The Washington Post published a story last November about "the secret life of baggage" that was reportedly accompanied -- only briefly -- by a photo of the master keys the Transportation Security Administration uses to open what it calls "TSA recognized" luggage locks.

The photo was hastily taken down, but -- predictably -- not before it was snagged and circulated. Reports about the leak began to appear last month, but it wasn't until this week that detailed blueprints showed up on GitHub.

"Security researchers have long warned of the dangers of using master-keyed locks," wrote Xyl2k, the GitHub user who posted the detailed plans.

Now, anyone with a 3D printer can create their own copies of the TSA master keys -- and create them they have, according to reports from exuberant users.

"OMG, it's actually working!!!" wrote Bernard Bolduc on Twitter, for example.

The TSA's master keys are designed to enable security officers to inspect luggage without having to cut off any locks protecting it. They work on locks created specifically for that purpose through partnerships between the agency and lock manufacturers.

"These locks are available at most airports and many travel stores nationwide," the TSA noted in a blog post early last year. "The packaging on the locks indicates whether they can be opened by TSA."

Neither The Washington Post nor the TSA responded immediately to a request for comment.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?