On the Security of Fobs and Codes – Seattle's Maple Leaf Locksmith LLC – (206)335-4559

On the Security of Fobs and Codes

Changes have come to the security of the shared front door utilizing keyless locks. For at least ten years people have enjoyed the convenience of keyless entry to their buildings. It is also much cheaper to maintain security of these locks when a fob is lost or somebody moves. Simply delete their credential from the lock and done. Contrast with the keyed entry: when one of the keys is lost the lock must be changed to a new key and new keys distributed to all residents. This can be very expensive for a large building.

So the fob then is a very inexpensive solution in the long term. Building management until now could assume that if the fob was returned at the end of a living arrangement that it could simply be issued to the next resident. This is no longer the case. Many fobs can now be copied. Key kiosks offer this service for $25 or so.

To the naked eye a fob or access card looks the same as any other but inside the credential the hardware varies. Some of them cannot be cloned as easily. That’s important when it comes to new technologies that offer inexpensive methods of cloning fobs illicitly. See this video offered by “The Lockpicking Lawyer” who is selling a tool that can be used to capture the conversation between a fob and reader.

This conversation can then be used to clone the fob. This is scary because in access control systems with logging features fobs are as good as a signature for who went through a door at a certain time. If someone’s fob is cloned then they might get in trouble for whatever nasty business is done after entry is gained with their credential.

The solution to all of this is to not use fobs that can be easily cloned. Rolling codes should be utilized and hopefully two factor authentication as well. This means that somebody presents a fob to the reader and then types in a code or uses a fingerprint reader or some other form of authentication.

If you have a building that uses fobs from ten years ago you probably need to consider updating your access control system’s security to something with rolling codes or iclass cards or something better than fixed code fobs which are the inexpensive $2 fobs most buildings use. I offer Alarm Lock locks that have two factor authenticating capabilities.

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Bjørn Madsen

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