Practical Lock Picking

A Physical Penetration Tester's Training Guide


  • Deviant Ollam, Member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. division of TOOOL, The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers and Security Auditor and Penetration Testing Consultant with The CORE Group

Practical Lock Picking: A Physical Penetration Testerā€™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 ā€œalternativeā€ 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.
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Penetration testers, security consultants, and IT security professionals, hackers


Book information

  • 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

"Deviantā€™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 youā€™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 itā€¦. 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 ā€˜filled with indispensible lock picking videos and color photos.ā€™"--The Ethical Hacker website

"Practical Lock Picking is an awesome bookā€¦ Not only is PLP an incredible resource, it should also serve as a model text for others who want to write a good bookā€¦ There is no filler materialā€¦ the writing is exceptionally clear and methodical with extreme attention to detail and a masterā€™s approach to educating the readerā€¦ The diagrams, pictures, and figures are superbā€¦ 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

Table of Contents



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

BogotĆ” 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