Lock expert finds security flaw affecting thousands of apartments
A Pittsburgh lock expert has uncovered a security flaw that could affect thousands of apartment and condominium buildings across the country.To get more news about smart lock door wifi
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The problem is with some intercoms that residents use to talk with visitors and let them in the door.Marc Tobias, an attorney and lock expert, said many of these systems are not secure, potentially allowing intruders to get into a building without any sign of forced entry.
Tobias has one of these systems in his own condo building.Using a small shim that is available at any auto parts store, he opened the intercom panel in 12 seconds.He also used a key he bought on Amazon for $15 to unlock the panel.
“Now I have access to all the electronics, and I can cause the elevator to come or I can open up the front door,” Tobias said. “It's a big concern in any building.”
Tobias did not go into details to avoid giving burglars a how-to guide. But he said unlocking the intercom panel can give an intrepid intruder a way to get inside any building.If you can circumvent the system you have access to the building. It's that simple. And then once you're in the building you can do whatever you want,” he said.
Tobias said the problem is a cheap lock used on the panels. He took his concerns straight to Keri Systems, the company that makes the panel on his building and thousands of others, including many in the Pittsburgh area.“I talked to their CEO and their entire engineering team. They really had no idea,” Tobias said.
“We want to thank Marc for bringing this to our attention,” said Ken Geiszler, CEO of Keri Systems. “He knows his stuff and so when he articulated the two mechanisms that someone could use to get into the box we took that seriously.”
Geiszler said he is replacing the cheap locks with high-security locks like one that Tobias obtained for his building. Tobias said the key for the new lock cannot be replaced with a cheap imitation bought online. He said the new lock cannot be picked with a shim.
Geiszler said he told some of his competitors in the security panel industry about the problem Tobias uncovered.“We did reach out to them because we do consider it an industry-wide problem,” he said. “There are millions of systems out there probably just in the U.S.”
A lock industry official told Action News Investigates the problem affects most apartments, condos and gated communities that use intercom systems.
“Could something catastrophic occur from that? Certainly,” said Mark Imhof of Midwest Security Products.
That's a big concern for some Pittsburgh apartment and condo tenants.“I think it would be pretty important to get on that soon because if you're saying they have problems, I mean I don't want problems at my place,” said Mark Connelly of Pittsburgh’s South Side.
“I think it's horrible. I mean that's really scary. If that's something going on, residents of any apartment building especially here on the South Side need to be notified of that,” said tenant Emily Kovacs.
Geiszler said any tenant who has concerns about the lock on their intercom panel should bring it to the attention of their building manager.