How To Protect Locks From Bump Keys

by Daniel on

Criminals already know what bump keys are, so it is important that you know as well. When you are looking to protect your locks from bump keys, you should understand what it is your solution is doing. 

Is the method you have chosen resulted in bump resistant locks or bump proof locks? You need to know the options of how to protect locks against bump keys, so you can make an informed decision about your security.

What are bump keys?

A bump key is a device intended to open every lock that uses a particular keyway. The keyway a bump key is designed to work with can vary, but a bump key will only work in one type of lock. For example, a bump key that opens a Kwikset brand lock, will not open a Schlage brand lock, and vice versa.

You can visually identify a bump key by its distinct saw-like appearance. If you look at the teeth on the blade of your house or office keys, you should see a variety of grooves with different depths and heights. Bump keys are cut so that every groove is at the lowest depth for the lock it is meant to work with.

How do bump keys work?

Bump keys are only intended to open pin tumbler locks. If you have a pin tumbler lock, as long as the bump key has the correct number of grooves and they have all been cut to the proper depth, the device can theoretically open the lock. 

A bump key must simply be inserted at the key and removed with a single click to expose the first groove from the bow of the key. Once the proper key is inserted into the lock in the appropriate manner, the bow of the key can be struck with a rubber mallet or similar object (even a plastic hairbrush can be used).

At the moment the key is struck, the key bumps all the pins in the lock so that they jolt upwards. In this same instant, the bump key user attempts to turn the key.If the key turns successfully, it is because at the moment the key was turned, the driver pins had cleared the shear line. 

The shear line is the space between the cylinder and the housing. Stacks of at least two pins (key pins on the bottom, and diver pins on the top) get caught in this boundary if they are not moved to the correct height.

Because the driver pins just have to be above the shear line and the key pins have to be below, if this happens for an instant, the lock can be opened in that instant. If this sounds like it takes a fair bit of luck, that is because it does. 

But by using rubber washers and other methods, a lock can be bumped hundreds of times in a matter of seconds, increasing the chances of getting lucky. However, some locks are made with such low security that they can be opened on the first try.

Can anyone make a bump key?

To make bump keys you need skill, tools, and very specific knowledge. That is why very few people can actually make bump keys. But bump keys can be purchased all over the internet, so there is no need to make them yourself. 

Bump keys are very easy to come by, and they are incredibly simple to use effectively with almost no prior training or practice. This is why you should know how to protect your lock from bump keys.

1. Install Security Pins

If you do not want to change your pin tumbler locks, you can still increase a lock’s resistance to bump key attacks by replacing the standard pins with security pins. Security pins are designed to catch on the shear line when the proper key is not used so that the lock still binds and will not open.

With enough attempts at bumping a lock, someone can still get lucky and have none of the security pins bind at the shear line. To increase the chances of your security pins catching properly, you can counter mill or thread the lock cylinder, so there are more ledges for the security pins to catch on.

2. Use Patented Keys

If a person cannot get a key blank that they can cut, then they cannot make a bump key. As already mentioned, it is already difficult enough to make a bump key yourself, but with patented keys, you are disrupting the easy access to mass-produced bump keys for your lock.

It is possible to get ahold of any patented key and make a bump key or use patent breaker keys. However, patented keys decrease the likelihood of someone using a bump key because it adds barriers to the process. Patented keys are also likely to use security pins and other methods that make a lock cylinder more complex.

3. Use Bump Proof Lock Types

If you use something like a disc detainer lock, there is no way for a bump key to open your lock. The lock functions in a completely different way from a pin tumbler lock, so the concept does not carry over. 

The same could be said for locks that use a slider system, magnetic key systems, etc. You can also use electronic locks that are keyless. Changing your lock to a door lock that works differently can make your lock bump proof.

5. Utilize Interior Protections

If you are inside your home, you can use thumb turn locks or door barricades to prevent anything from opening the door at all. It will not matter if the lock can be opened by a bump key or even the correct key. 

However, these types of interior protections cannot be opened unless you have an alternate way into the home or are already inside, so this is not ideal for every situation.

Closing Thoughts

Bump keys exist as both burglary tools and professional locksmithing tools, so they are not completely without merit. However, there is no need to worry about a locksmith not being able to open your door, so it is a good idea that your locks can stand up to bump key attacks. 

If you need any help upgrading your locks and security, call Locksmith Pros USA today. Don’t leave your home vulnerable, and invest in better security for your locks.

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