Self-service key-making machines: Keys are no longer secure


New technology makes it much easier to duplicate keys, which is definitely both a plus and a minus. It is also inevitable.The best security for your house key is to not give it to anyone. Valets should only get a car key. House keys can be duplicated by scanning them with a smartphone. So can some car keys.

MinuteKey kiosks, available across the country, don’t care if your key says ‘Do Not Duplicate.’ MinuteKey never even sees the inscription. Stick the key part in the slot and it’ll make a perfect key in about a minute. It’s completely self-service. I’ve used MinuteKey. It’s quick, easy, and fun to watch the keys being made.

KeyMe scans keys with a smartphone
KeyMe scans keys with a smartphone. Their kiosks make keys from the scans.

KeyMe, a new iPhone app, takes that one step further. Scan your keys with your iPhone and it saves it for you on a digital keyring. You can order keys through the app or make one at their kiosks using the scans.

Apps like KeyMe and KeysDuplicated haven’t exactly created the requirement that our physical keys be kept as secret as our digital ones. But they have democratized the security threat: Now even a lockpicking noob like me can demonstrate the danger of letting keys leave their owner’s control.

In a way, says Weyers, that’s a good thing. “The effect of services like KeyMe will be positive: People are now starting to understand that it only take a couple of seconds to duplicate a key,” he says. “We lock nerds already knew that. Now the normal public is catching on.”

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