Could a burglar use a mobile phone to break into your home?

The next time you're smashed off your face after an evening in the company of Captain Stella and First mate Jim Beam, check for photographers before fumbling for several minutes with your front door key. It seems that rapscallions may not need physical access to your keys to copy them; a photograph will the trick.

Security researchers have developed a technique for copying keys using only a low resolution picture. In one demonstration, the San Diego-based team took camera phone pictures of a house key. A second exercise featured the use of a telephoto lens to take pictures of a key from 200 feet away. Both times, their image-recognition software was able to pull out the information required to cut identical copies.

Stefan Savage, a computer science professor from UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering said: "We built our key duplication software system to show people that their keys are not inherently secret. Perhaps this was once a reasonable assumption, but advances in digital imaging and optics have made it easy to duplicate someone’s keys from a distance without them even noticing."

[The Register]

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