Practical Lock Picking book cover

Practical Lock Picking

A Physical Penetration Tester's Training Guide

Practical Lock Picking: A Physical Penetration Tester’s Training Guide provides an introduction to the basic principles of lock picking. It combines both easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons, and tutorials that will help security-conscious people learn how to open most of the locks they may encounter during auditing or assessment work. The text covers the fundamentals of pin tumbler and wafer locks; the basics of picking; beginner and advanced training; and quick entry techniques. The discussions focus on pin tumbler locks, with several diagrams provided to illustrate the construction and function of these locks. Guides and exercises demonstrate the use of basic lock-picking tools in order to manipulate and open these locks. The text also describes the most common “alternative” designs of pin tumbler locks and summarizes the tools and techniques that can be effective against them. The book can be a valuable resource for both beginners and those seeking advanced, professional training in lock picking. Individuals working in the field of penetration testing can use the book to enhance their repertoire of skills.


Penetration testers, security consultants, and IT security professionals, hackers


Published: July 2010

Imprint: Syngress

ISBN: 978-1-59749-611-7


  • Winner of the Best Book Bejtlich Read in 2010--

    "Practical Lock Picking (PLP) is an awesome book. I don't provide physical testing services, but as a security professional familiar with Deviant's reputation I was curious to read PLP. Not only is PLP an incredible resource, it should also serve as a model text for others who want to write a good book. First, although the book is less than 250 pages, it is very reasonably priced. Second, Deviant wastes NO space. There is no filler material, background found in other readily available texts, reprinted Web site content, etc. Third, the writing is exceptionally clear and methodical, with extreme attention to detail and a master's approach to educating the reader. Finally, the diagrams, pictures, and figures are superb."--Richard Bejtlich, TaoSecurity

    "No matter what your background is, if you want a new and fascinating insight into this world, I don't think any book will give you a better introduction to this field than this one."--Barry Wels, Founder and President, The open Organisation Of Lockpickers

    "You have exhausted your budgets on the myriad of high tech cyber threats and finally have time to take a breath. Just as you settle in your chair to review the dashboard which shows the fruits of your tireless effort, an alert hits your phone. The voice on the phone cries out 'The servers are GONE!' This book will show you what happens when attackers decide to 'get physical."--Chris Nickerson, Lares Consulting

    "The clear explanation and plentiful diagrams leave the reader with a clear idea of how lock mechanisms work, and the practice exercises that follow build on this knowledge to allow the reader to quickly progress before moving on to the simpler techniques, shimming and bumping...Overall the book does much to dispel the myth that lock-picking is an arcane, difficult art and puts the reader in a position to carry out more effective physical security reviews...In summary this is an excellent practical introduction to the subject and the publishers are to be congratulated for producing another good niche penetration testing book."--Nick Dunn, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

    "Deviant’s material is presented with rich, detailed diagrams and is offered in easy-to-follow lessons which allow even beginners to acquire the knowledge very quickly. Everything from straightforward lockpicking to quick-entry techniques like shimming, bumping, and bypassing is explained and show. Whether you’re being hired to penetrate security or simply trying to harden your own defenses, this book is essential."--The Journal of Law Enforcement

    "While reading this book, it will be difficult for you to sit calmly and go through it, you will be tempted to look for the locks around your house and start tinkering with it…. What makes this book easy to understand are the clear cut diagrams showing the internal design of locks. You will hardly find a page in this book without those design pictures and all of these are precise engineering-diagram types - not just some random lock pictures. It is very clear that author has taken great efforts to get those pictures right and this is what gives this book 5 star rank!"--SecurityXploded Blog

    "There is a well known member of the locksport community called Deviant Ollam He has released a book on lockpicking and penetration testing of locks. Practical Lock Picking: A Physical Penetration Tester's Training Guide [Paperback] This man is an excellent teacher and has given many lectures on locks and picking."

    "This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend if you have any interest in physical security. It's a great reference and guide book for getting started with lock picking, learning how locks work, and really motivates you to want to get your hands dirty trying out the techniques covered in the book."--Dark Readings Evil Bytes Blog

    "Great book for the beginner or an old pro. Been reading lock picking books for 35 years and this is one of the best... Deviant Ollam, one of the security industry's best-known lock picking teachers, has assembled an instructional manual geared specifically toward penetration testers. Unlike other texts on the subject (which tend to be either massive volumes detailing every conceivable style of lock or brief "spy manuals" that only skim the surface) this book is for INFOSEC professionals that need essential, core knowledge of lock picking and seek the ability to open most locks with relative ease."--e2e Security website

    "Be sure to check out his book as well: Practical Lock Picking: A Physical Penetration Tester's Training Guide. The book, published this past July by Syngress, comes with a DVD ‘filled with indispensible lock picking videos and color photos.’"--The Ethical Hacker website

    "Practical Lock Picking is an awesome book… Not only is PLP an incredible resource, it should also serve as a model text for others who want to write a good book… There is no filler material… the writing is exceptionally clear and methodical with extreme attention to detail and a master’s approach to educating the reader… The diagrams, pictures, and figures are superb… Overall, this book is helpful for those wishing to pick locks AND those who want to know how to write a good book."--TaoSecurity blog


  • Foreword


    About the Author

    Ethical Considerations


    Chapter 1 Fundamentals of pin tumbler and wafer locks

    Pin tumbler locks

    The plug

    Pin tumbler lock operation

    Wafer locks

    Wafer lock construction

    Wafer lock operation

    Better wafer locks


    Chapter 2 The basics of picking: Exploiting weaknesses

    Exploiting Weaknesses in Locks

    Manufacturing imperfections

    Mechanical imperfections lead to security weaknesses

    Picking with a Lifting Technique

    The problem of too much tension

    The peril of overlifting

    Picking with a Raking Technique

    The half diamond pick

    Tension tools

    Jiggler tools


    Chapter 3 Beginner training: How to get very good, very fast

    A Word on Equipment

    Cutaway locks

    Progressively pinned locks

    The importance of a vice

    The Basics of Field Stripping

    Starter Exercises

    Inserting and moving the pick

    Feeling the spring

    Setting a single pin stack

    Learning Exercises

    Slow down, lighten up

    Two pin stacks

    Three pin stacks

    Four pin stacks and beyond

    Challenging Yourself Further

    Deep reach practice

    Blindly mix and match

    Using Rakes and Jigglers

    Techniques of tool movement

    Wafer Lock Exercises

    Progressive wafer locks

    Tensioning wafer locks

    Extra Hints

    Which way to turn

    Plugs stuck upside-down


    Chapter 4 Advanced training: Learning some additional skills

    Pick-resistant pins

    Pins with lips

    Pins with serrations

    Coordinated pick-resistant components

    Specialized picking techniques


    Specialized picking tools

    Featherweight tension tools

    Bogotá jiggler rakes

    Practice exercises

    Spooled progressive practice locks

    Pick-resistant keyways

    Real-world locks that offer greater challenges

    Defiant brand door locks

    Master Lock color-plated series and fusion series

    American Lock padlocks

    Advanced security pin cylinder


    Chapter 5 Quick-entry tricks: Shimming, bumping, and bypassing

    Padlock shims

    The Deviant beer can shim

    Double shimming

    Unshimmable padlocks

    Snapping and bumping

    Snap guns

    Bump keys

    Comb picks


    Using comb picks

    American Lock bypass tool

    Door bypassing

    Slip attacks against latch bolts

    Triggering door handles and push bars


    Chapter 6 They all come tumbling down: Pin tumblers in other configurations

    Tubular locks

    Inside a tubular lock

    Pick tools for tubular locks

    Picking tubular locks

    Odd styles of tubular locks

    Cruciform locks

    Manually picking a cruciform lock

    Cross lock picks

    Dimple locks

    The secret weakness in 90% of padlocks


    Appendix: Guide to tools and toolkits



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