Keyless Ignitions – The Future is Now

It has been speculated by many in the automotive industry that the clock is ticking on the use of standard cut key blades for operating vehicles. Not only are their security concerns which could be alleviated by switching to keyless ignition systems, but also safety concerns which could be eliminated. It what is a signal that this industry change may be coming faster than expected, General Motors is telling dealerships to replace the key systems on their 2014 and 2015 models for many larger vehicles which include the Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Sierra. The reason for this is the concern that the key can become knocked out of position when attempting to shift gears. This is reminiscent of the problem which resulted in the recall of millions of General Motors vehicles this past year.

Security Concerns

One of the benefits that many manufacturers can have by switching their vehicles to keyless ignition systems is an added amount of security. Transponder car keys have certainly helped to reduce the amount of automotive thefts that have taken place, but it only stands to be a matter of time before thieves are able to find new methods to disable transponder car key systems. As more thieves are able to become familiar with the technical workings of transponder car keys it is possible that they find easier ways to duplicate the programming found in transponder car keys. By removing the keyed blade, auto manufacturers can rely solely on improved keyless ignition technology to keep customer’s vehicles security.

keyless ignition

A simple button push can start your vehicle and provide safety in many new model vehicles.

Increased Safety

As demonstrated in the General Motors vehicles which needed to be recalled throughout the year, there certainly are safety concerns that can arise from the use of traditional blade keys. With minor wear and tear, or because of part failure, the key can be turned from the on position while an individual is driving the car. This can cause for the loss of power steering and brakes, which is obviously dangerous especially if you are on the highway. While the key slipping from the position is unlikely to happen, the possibility still remains. By using a keyless ignition fob there is no wear and tear which results from the repeated use of the ignition. This eliminates the possibility that the car can be moved from the open position while the owner is driving.

The added benefit of security does come at a cost. Having to get your keyless ignition fob replaced can be an expensive undertaking, so keeping your fobs secure and handy is a definite need. You can receive a replacement bladed car key much easier, and much cheaper, than you are able to have a replacement keyless ignition fob replaced. Despite this extra cost in the case that you have lost your fobs, keyless ignitions will almost certainly become standard on new vehicles in the near future. Their combination of safety and security allow for the most carefree driving experience possible. Following the recalls that the manufacturer had to deal with this year, General Motors seems poised to be a leader in the implementation of keyless ignition systems going forward.

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Car Theft Dramatically Decreasing Says Newly Released Statistics

(VIA National Insurance Crime Bureau) In the early 1990’s, the major automotive manufacturers faced a major issue. While their sales were on the rise, so were the theft of the vehicles that they were producing. In the year 1991, automotive thefts hit their all-time high with 1,661,738 vehicles being reported stolen. Not only was this the highest amount of automotive thefts reported in one year, but it also had the highest concentration of thefts per capita. During that year, there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 US citizens. Recently released statistics show that for the year 2013 there was a sharp decline in the amount of automotive theft that have taken place sine the year 1991, the year which had the most automotive thefts in United States history.

During 2013, 699,594 vehicles were reported stolen. This is a decrease of over 55% when compared to the year 1991. Not only was there a decrease in the overall amount of automotive thefts, but there was also a decrease in the amount of car thefts per capita. While there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in 1991, that number had decreased to less than 200 per 100,000 people. That shows a decrease of over 67% in the amount of thefts. This does raise a few questions, like; what has changed that allowed for such a dramatic decrease of automotive thefts?

Upgrades in Automotive Security

During the year 1991, thieves were commonly using the hot-wire method to steal vehicles. This is where a thief opens your dashboard or ignition in order to access the starter wire. Once the thief had access to that wire, by giving it a power charge they would be able to start the vehicle. The updated technology of transponder car keys has actively removed this method from thieves’ arsenals. Even with power being sent to the starter, a vehicle which has a transponder car key system will not start unless there is a key with a corresponding transponder chip inside of the ignition. While this has made vehicles more secure, it can also end up costing car owners. If you car key is lost and you need to call a mobile locksmith to replace it, a transponder car key will cost more to be replaced than a traditional blade key. The reason for this is that a new key must not only be cut to match the ignition, but it also must be programmed to the car’s computer in order for it to properly function.

Upgrades in automotive security are not the only factor that has assisted with this massive decline in automotive thefts. Police and other law enforcement agencies have implemented new strategies, while also dedicating more time, for fighting the plague of automotive thefts which had been going on during the early 1990’s. What law enforcement has done is set-up dedicated units which solely focus on automotive theft. They have also implemented “bait cars” and automated license plate readers. One assists police in getting automotive thieves off the street before they can strike an unsuspecting victim, while the other works to identify stolen vehicle and return them to their rightful owner.

There is no doubt that car owners should be encouraged by the sharp decrease in automotive thefts. After all, vehicles are extremely expensive pieces of equipment and their security needs to be at an acceptable level for this reason. As with many technologies, these security features may only be effective in the short-term. Thieves are always working to gain an advantage over those trying to stop them and it only figures to be a short period of time before they come up with a new and effective way to steal transponder car key vehicles. Currently thieves are preying on the carelessness and momentary lapses of judgement that vehicle owners may experience to steal vehicles in a less technical way.

Elderly Couple Nearly Dies After Locking Themselves in Mazda

As a locksmith in Philadelphia, we see a lot of cases where individuals lock themselves out of vehicles. In fact, that makes up a large part of what we at Phila-Locksmith do. We have, however, never received an emergency call from someone who was locked inside of their vehicle. The reason that this has yet to happen is that it is impossible to lock yourself inside of car without extenuating circumstances. One couple in New Zealand did not realize this and their mistake was nearly fatal. The couple, Mollieanne and Brian Smith, believed that they had become locked inside of their car when they entered the vehicle without the keyless fob. It was their belief that the vehicle, a Mazda 3 hatchback, could not be opened without the fob from the outside or the inside.

The nearly tragic event took place in early November on Guy Fawkes day. The couple entered the vehicle which was parked inside of their garage at nighttime, but once inside they realized that they had left the fob outside of the vehicle. It was at this point that the couple believed that they had become locked in their Mazda. Mr. and Mrs. Smith attempted to alert neighbors to their situation by yelling and sounding the horn. No one was able to hear them, likely because of fireworks, the night that they became trapped in the vehicle. The next day, neighbors found the elderly couple and assisted getting them out of the vehicle. At this point Mrs. Smith had become unconscious and Mr. Smith has having trouble breathing. Emergency responders who arrived on scene said that if they had remained inside of the vehicle for another half hour, they likely would have died of suffocation.

The General Manager of Mazda in New Zealand said that there was no design flaw in the Mazda 3 keyless ignition system. Not only did he state that he had not heard of a situation like this arising before, but also that the keyless ignition system has a manual unlock just above the door handle, as you would find in any standard or transponder car key system. Had the couple been aware of this, they would have been able to avoid the entire situation.

Mrs. Smith claims that the salespeople for vehicles with keyless ignitions need to offer full explanations of all manual overrides so that a situation like this can be avoided. This is a fair point, dealerships need to be aware that not all individuals purchasing newer model vehicles are the most technically savvy people. While a manual door override may seem like common sense to many people, it is important for dealerships to ensure that they are assuming nothing to avoid any liability that they may have in the future.

Benefits of Keyless Ignition Systems

Most car manufacturers are moving, or already have moved, a majority of their vehicles to a keyless entry system. The reason for this is not only for convenience and security, but also for the driver’s own safety. In light of the ignition switch recall that General Motors went through earlier this year, it was revealed that many of the deaths or injuries could have been avoided if a keyless ignition was in place rather than a traditional blade key. Security was the initial reason that many car manufacturers began placing keyless systems in their vehicle. While transponder car keys did advance the automotive security that many vehicles had, there were still ways to compromise security. Keyless entry and transponder car key systems have made it more difficult for thieves to get possession of your vehicle, but also made it more difficult, and expensive, to get automotive locksmith services completed for your vehicle. In the long run, keyless ignition systems offer such a combination of convenience, security and safety that the benefits outweigh the additional cost of replacement fobs.

Norristown Example of Common Car Theft Practice

Thanks to the advent of transponder car keys for most newer make and model vehicles, it is becoming more difficult for thieves to steal cars in the ways that they had in the past. Specifically hot wiring, and jiggler keys, are methods which are no longer effective to gain control over a vehicle and thieves have had to adjust. One way that many thieves are adjusting is waiting for you to have a moment of weakness before striking. Either by targeting an unattended vehicle, or by breaking into a home to steal the car keys, thieves are able to take your vehicle right when you least expect it.

Just last week, in East Norriton, two men were arrested for car theft while using some of the methods named above. Police were first called by a resident who had left their vehicle running in their driveway to melt away snow that had accumulated on their vehicle. When that individual returned to their driveway, they found that the vehicle was gone. One neighbor claimed to have seen a vehicle parked on the side of the road which may had been involved in the theft. Later that day, police found a vehicle matching that description and attempted to pull the vehicle over after a traffic violation. The vehicle did not stop and police were led on a chase. Fortunately, no one was harmed during the events that took place and both of the individuals inside of the suspected car were apprehended.

While transponder car keys have made it more difficult for thieves to steal your vehicle using specific methods, it has also made it more difficult for technicians, like our Norristown locksmith, to complete replacement car keys. The moral of the story in the case of these two car thieves above, is for car owners to be attentive about their vehicle. Do not leave your vehicle unattended with the keys inside, you are only putting yourself in danger of becoming a victim of automotive theft yourself.

Mastercard Launching Contactless Fingerprint Sensing Card

In what is a huge step for providing security to all types of payment transactions, Mastercard has partnered with Zwipe to launch the first ever contact-less integrated fingerprint sensor on a payment card. After first completing a live pilot at Norway’s Sparebanken DIN, the card is no ready to go live throughout the world. By having bio-metric technology integrated directly onto a contact-less payment card, Mastercard is able to offer the convenience of contact-less payment combined with the security that bio-metric authentication can have.

Secure Payment Authentication

The biometric reader on Mastercard’s new payment card is similar to that you would find on a bio-metric lock. When the card is initially set-up a cardholder will scan their fingerprint into the bio-metric reader. Once the card has stored this information, the information is saved so that it can be used to authenticate the user of the payment card in the future. Not only does this allow for better authentication, but also allows for cardholders to avoid entering a pin or password, which is much easier for thieves to utilize once they get a hold of that information.

bio-metric card mastercard

Fingerprint the Authentication of the Future

Many security companies, and companies who have a keen interest in maintaining security, have been intrigued by the benefits that bio-metric authentication offers. Passwords and pins can easily be stolen or hacked by more experienced thieves, making bio-metric authentication necessary helps to ensure, as much as possible, that only an authorized user is able complete whatever function is being secured. For example, a traditional key can easily be duplicated at a hardware, making it easy for thieves to have authorized access to this lock. A bio-metric lock cuts out this threat by requiring unique fingerprint authentication which is much more difficult to fake than a traditional lock.

It is for this reason that Mastercard has introduced bio-metric authentication to its payment cards. Currently all a thief needs is your card and the pin associated with that card in order to make fraudulent purchases. With this new bio-metric technology installed directly inside of the payment card, if a thief steals your card it would be nearly impossible for them to be authenticated. This protects your funds from being used for fraudulent purchases or reasons.

As locksmiths we are happy to see Mastercard’s successful adaptation of bio-metric authentication for payment cards for two reasons. The first being that we complete mobile services and often times are left authenticating payment cards in a myriad of ways. If we are able to authenticate a customer through bio-metric implant on their payment card, it is easy to determine that the card does in fact belong to that individual. Secondly, a major company such as Mastercard investing in bio-metric authentication should help to drive innovation while also lowering bio-metric technology cost as competition to produce them increases. As always, continue to stay posted with all of the latest news and tips by continuing to visit the Phila-Locksmith blog.

High Security Lock Options

When it comes to commercial or residential security you can never be too secure. Ensuring the continued function of your existing lock while also completing other smaller locksmith services can help to keep your home and business secure. However, in some cases, a higher level of security may be necessary. When this occurs, you want to look past the traditional deadbolt and knob locks that are generally offered. While these traditional locks are quite effective in keeping an average person out of your home or business, lock picks can disable these locks in just a matter of seconds. If your home or business has a high amount of valuables inside of it then turning to a higher level of security lock can be extremely beneficial. Phila-Locksmith’s technicians, from our Norristown locksmith to our technicians at the Jersey Shore, offer you a number of high security lock options that will all but guarantee that your home or business will not be targeted by burglars or thieves.

NightWatch by Master Lock

One high security option that you can select from our locksmiths is the NightWatch deadbolt. What the NightWatch deadbolt is able to offer you is the utmost in security. Due to the function of the deadbolt it is much more commonly installed a residential high security options. This master lock model fits where your existing deadbolt is installed. In addition to being able to arm the NightWatch model as if it is a traditional deadbolt, there is an extra function which allows for high security. While occupying the residence where the lock is installed you are able to activate the “NightWatch” function of the deadbolt. What this does is move the piece which turns the lock cylinder and removes it from its functioning position. When this occurs it is impossible to open the lock from the outside, even if you have a key that is perfectly cut for that lock. While this is a great increase in security, the one drawback is that the “NightWatch” function can only be activated from the inside, which makes it somewhat less desirable for commercial applications.

Mul-T-Lock

Mul-T-Lock is one of the leading manufacturers of high security locks and their models are extremely popular with business owners. One of these popular commercial lock mdoels is their MT-5 lock. This model lock has impressive pick, drill and bump resistant features, which make it a challenge for even experienced burglars to disable. In addition to these external security measures, Mul-T-Lock is also popular with businesses because of its restricted key way. Due to the restricted key way copies of a Mul-T-Lock key can only be duplicated at Mul-T-Lock an authorized dealer while also having a magnetic strip key that proves you are authorized to make a duplicate. This allows for business owners to keep a tight reign on their key control and ensure that no keys are falling into the wrong hands. Of course, this added security also comes with an increased price tag. Getting duplicates of a Mul-T-Lock key is quite costly costly when compared to the price of duplicating a standard key.

Medeco Options

Medeco is another manufacturer of high security deadbolts which can be effective in both residential and commercial applications. For example, their Maxum deadbolt model, has rotating pins inside of the cylinder which allow for drill and pick resistance features. In addition to the Maxum model, there are multiple other high security lock options that Medeco offers, each one offers a different price and security level to allowing you to get the best fit for your home or business. View the demonstration below of the type of security that a Maxum deadbolt from Medeco can offer you.

There are other aspects of security to take into effect in addition to the type of lock that you select. For example, if you have a hollow door, with a high security door installed on it, there is still an opportunity for a burglar to use forced entry. In order to get the most “bang for your buck“, your security approach should be a holistic approach. By choosing to improve your entire security apparatus and not just your lock type, you are able to enjoy much more effective commercial or residential security. Contact us today to have one of our locksmiths discuss your high security options with you directly, he will be able to provide you with pricing information as well as offer suggestions that will help you to achieve your security goals.

LockCon and the Dutch Open Championship

Locksmiths like the technicians at Phila-Locksmith are always striving to become more knowledgeable and more masterful of their lock services. Many people do not realize, for the cream of the lock picking crop, there is a convention to not only learn more about their craft, but also compete for a chance to be crowned champion lock picker. LockCon is run by The Open Organization of Lock Pickers and is held annually in the Netherlands. Lock pickers, engineers, locksmiths and lock enthusiasts from around the world flock to this convention every year to test their skills, while also taking a look at the most advanced lock technology that is available.

Maintaining the LockCon Image

The Open Organization of Lock Pickers wants to ensure that their convention and competition only occurs with the best of intentions. This is why LockCon is an invite only event to certain individuals. The President of TOOOL has said that their focus is that, “we spend a lot of time trying to keep the bad guys—or guys with bad intentions—out.” Keeping a tight reign on membership and invitations is crucial for TOOOL because of the negative connotation that can come with being a lock picker. Not only is there competition within LockCon, but also a lot of collaboration and information sharing. The event provides an opportunity for lock pickers to share information with their peers about the latest methods they use and technology that they have encountered. Of course, throughout the convention, the Youth Hostel which plays host to this event each year provides their own lager, “all inclusive”, which certainly helps to maintain the cheerful, friendly but ultimately competitive atmosphere that LockCon is looking to cultivate.

Driving Lock Innovation

Master hacker and creator of Linux once said, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. This same logic is applied to new lock technology which is constantly being developed. With enough master lock pickers working on a new technology, it is easy to figure out exactly what the weaknesses of a new technology are. Manufacturers can use the weaknesses identified by some of the brightest brains in the lock pick industry to develop newer technology which is even more secure than that which was produced previously. Once, a lock manufacturer claimed that they had created the, “the safest locking system in the world”[1]. Intrigued, master lock pick Deviant Ollam brought the new lock to that year’s LockCon. After passing the lock around, they recorded the unlocking time that it took for every lock picker and sent that information to the manufacturer. Impressed, the manufacturer began engaging in constructive discussion with the lock pickers on how to improve their new technology.

Arthur Bühl Lock Picking Legend

Standing at 6’5″, Arthur Bühl can seem like quite the intimidating man. To many who are involved in locksport, Mr. Bühl certainly is just that. With championships in many competitions around the globe he is affectionately known as “Arthurmeister”[2] to other lock enthusiast. Hailing from Hamburg, he is among a legion of German lock pickers who have established their country as one of the top producers of master lock pickers.

Not much has been written about TOOOL’s LockCon, which certainly has to do with the strict policy that they keep on attendance. The tales that are told from LockCon display an image of not only competition to vie for top lock picking honors, but also of collaboration that enables the lock industry to grow more and more secure with each year. Americans are among the least represented in the group and continue to maintain underdog status in most of LockCon’s competitions. It will be interesting to see if in the coming years Americans are able to establish themselves as not only a competitive force to be reckoned with, but also a resource that other lock pickers can turn to for innovation. While our Philadelphia locksmiths are able to pick just about any commercial or residential lock that they come across, it would be interesting to see exactly how they stack up against the best and most refined locksmiths in the world.

toool lock con

More information about LockCon and the Dutch Open Championships can be found at: [1] Slate.com and [2] Wired.com

When Locked Out, Best to Call a Locksmith

Being locked out of your home or apartment is obviously a frustrating experience. Sometimes, due to frustration, people try to use unconventional ways to get back into their home. In these cases it is best to call a locksmith and wait for them to arrive than to attempt a more daring reentry. Below we have some daring reentry methods that individuals have recently used to try and get back into their homes. Some luckily found success, while others ended up in a worse predicament than they had originally found themselves in. We remind readers to not try any of these reentry methods for themselves. Always call a locksmith!

Scottsdale Teen Tries Entering Through Chimney

It could have been a case of the holiday spirit that caused a thirteen year old Scottsdale teenager to attempt to reenter his locked house by climbing down the chimney. Last week, the teenager found himself locked out of his home without any keys to reenter with. He quickly fashioned together a rope, out of extension cords, and attempted to slide down the chimney. Despite a larger open area at the top of the chimney, the teen became stuck once he had gotten to the “flue” area lower in the chimney. Luckily he had his cellphone on hand to dial 911. After some effort, emergency responders were able to free the teenage boy and contact family to let them know what happened. This is one simple situation where calling a locksmith immediately would have made this teen’s night much easier. (AZFamily)

Egyptian Father Lowers Child to Open Window

No matter where in the world you may be, it can be easy to find yourself locked out. This is what one father and son in Egypt discovered, when they were locked out of their home while the mother was out shopping. Rather than call a locksmith, the father decided to fashion a hoist out of straps that were around in order to lower his small son from the roof to an open window. As you can see in the video below, the father was successful in getting his child through the window, and added the comment, “If your mom was here she would never allow such an act“. Obviously you should never attempt a stunt like this, especially with the amount of danger that you are placing that child in. Next time this family finds themselves locked out it would be best to call a locksmith, or wait for mother to return from her shopping trip with keys. (Albawaba)

Darwin Man Attempts to Repel Down Apartment Building

A man in Northern Australia was close to attempting one of the most daring ways to reenter a locked apartment possible. The man had tied a rope to the top of his apartment block with the other end tied around his waste. His plan was to use the rope to repel down the side of his apartment building to land on his apartment’s balcony hoping to reenter. Fortunately, before the man had a chance to try out his rig, concerned on-lookers called police. When police arrived they were able to talk the man out of attempting to repel and having him, instead, call a locksmith to have him back inside. (ABC AU)

No matter how frustrated or irritated that you may be, it is always best to call a locksmith when you are locked out, rather than attempt one of these daring entries. While there are occasional successes, such as the father in Egypt, the risk of bodily harm is to great when a locksmith is just minutes away from providing you with assistance. For example, if you find yourself locked out of your home or apartment in Philadelphia, or the surrounding tri-state area, you can get emergency response from Phila-Locksmith in as little as 20 minutes. Fast response like this not only gets you quickly out of a jam, but also allows for you to avoid the unnecessary risk that some of these daring reentries have.

Keeping Up With Locksmiths and Keys (12/3)

Since our last blog post, Phila-Locksmith has been keeping track of much of the news and happenings in locksmith related areas. Much of this news can be helpful to customers for increasing security while also saving themselves a few dollars. In the best interest of our customers, we have condensed some of the most important lock and key related news that has occurred since our last blog update. The topics that we will cover in this post are an update to the story of a Modesto locksmith who was gunned down during an eviction process, a burglary in Charlotte and KeyMe’s forray from only house keys  to attempting the duplication of car keys as well.

Stanislaus County Lawyers Probing Locksmith’s Personal Life

In July of 2013 a Modesto locksmith was killed during an eviction standoff along with a police officer. Following his death, the family of the locksmith wanted the county to take, at least partial, responsibility for the resulting death. Now that lawyers have begun to dissect the case, it seems that a large portion of the case will focus on the personal life of both the locksmith and his wife; after a judge granted county attorneys with three years of both marriage counseling and mental health history. The attorney for the locksmith’s family has said that this action represents a gross violation of the family’s privacy. It will be interesting to see, once this case goes to trial in August of next year, whether attorneys will be able to take such a detailed look at the family’s private life and whether it will have bearing on the outcome of the case. For a more detailed update on the information requested in this case, visit The Modesto Bee.

$45K in Damage to Charlotte Barbershop

Over the Thanksgiving weekend one landlord in Charlotte, North Carolina, received a surprise that he was likely not thankful for at all. After evicting a tenant who owed about a year’s worth of rent, on November 26, the landlord had his locks replaced by a locksmith to prevent the previous tenant from coming back. Clearly, there was a lapse in security, whether it be the lock, installation or simply blunt force, that allowed for vandals to get inside of the former barbershop. When the landlord arrived back at his storefront that very Saturday, he found that the locks were disabled and store vandalized. The burglars stole some items, such as the water meter, glass and sinks, while also leaving drywall and sheetrock destroyed. A contractor has provided this landlord with a repair estimate of $45,000. Which begs the question, could this have been avoided if a higher security lock had been installed? Many individuals are hesitant to spend the extra money for a more secure lock, but is that savings worth the loss that can occur if someone breaks in?

Is KeyMe Worth It For Car Keys?

We have covered the implementation of KeyMe kiosks previously, while their concept seems like a solid idea on paper, there are some logistical and security concerns. For those within walking distance of a kiosk in New York City, getting an apartment key at 7-11 seems like a much easier process than choosing a locksmith. Now KeyMe wants you to store a copy of your car key on their cloud system. KeyMe now offers duplicate car keys, but there is a catch. The car keys can not be made on the spot, and must be mailed to the receiver. Unless you have a second vehicle to drive around, then this can leave you without transportation for a week. Until KeyMe is able to offer immediate service, like a mobile locksmith, the provider of replacement car keys will likely remain locksmiths.

Continue to stay posted with us at Phila-Locksmith for the latest in locksmith related news, tips and information. For those in the Philadelphia tri-state area, feel free to call us at anytime to discuss your lock and key or security needs.