Don’t Trust your U-Lock!

Kryptonite U-Locks have traditionally been one of the strongest and safest bicycle locks available. However, acording Chris Brennan in a posting on Bike Forum, they have a major security problem:

As you guys might remember, I recently had the nicest set of wheels I’ve ever had stolen from me. Today I was hanging out with a friend and we got to talking about that – he said his friend showed him just recently how to open a U-Lock with a ball point pen.

Of course I didn’t believe it. That is until just thirty seconds ago when I opened my own Kryptonite Evolution 2000 with a bic ball point pen!

This has to be the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. Try it. Take the end off the pen, jam it in the lock, wiggle around and twist.

In a follow-up post, he includes links to movie clips showing, in one case, how a pen can be used just as quickly as the lock’s key:

Movie #1: – 524KB
Movie #2: – 954KB
Movie #3: – 251KB

And an NRP interview (audio):

In response, Kryptonite has begun offering free upgrades to customers who have purchased certain locks during the last two years:

Canton, MA September 17, 2004 – Kryptonite today announced it will provide free product upgrades for certain locks purchased since September 2002, in response to consumer concerns about tubular cylinder lock technology.
· · ·
Consumers who have purchased an Evolution lock, KryptoLok lock, New York Chain, New York Noose, Evolution Disc Lock, KryptoDisco or DFS Disc Lock in the last two years are eligible for a product upgrade free of charge from Kryptonite.
· · ·
Specifically, Kryptonite will provide for free cross bars featuring the company’s new disc-style cylinder lock technology to consumers who have purchased Evolution and KryptoLok series products. In addition the company will replace for free recently purchased Evolution Disc Locks on New York Chain and New York Noose with its “Molly Lock”, a heavy duty solid steel padlock. Kryptonite also will upgrade recently purchased disc locks.

Thus far, the discussions have all been about Kryptonite locks, but there are hundreds of different locks, from bike-locks to storage-lockers, that use round keys. I’m curious: is this problem strictly an issue with Kryptonite or a generally inherent problem with all locks of this style?

UPDATE 09/22/2004:
As I suspected, this is a much wider problem than just bike locks. Both CNN/Money and The New York Times indicate that vending machines, alarm panels, computer cable locks, and even some ignitions are vulnerable, as could be just about anything else that uses this tubular cylinder technology.

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