In.Security Home


Archive for the 'Forced Entry' Category

The Medeco® m3 Deadbolt Design: How Secure is it?



If you are a locksmith or security professional, see the detailed analysis that follows. The password is available on ClearStar. or from the author.

There are millions of Medeco deadbolt systems in place worldwide. They are rated as one of the most secure systems available. That is based upon the Medeco reputation for quality and engineering excellence and their high security ratings by UL, BHMA/ANSI and other standards organizations. The current mechanical design of their deadbolt has been utilized on the Biaxial® product line and now the m3. Bypass of these systems by means of forced entry has been difficult although there are expensive tools that are available to compromise them.

We have conducted very limited testing but it appears there may be a serious security flaw in certain of their deadbolt designs. Part of the problem results from widening of the keyway in the m3 as discussed in Part I of this series of articles. We would urge any user to contact their locksmith, security consultant, or Medeco representative for further information. Medeco has been notified and is aware of the issue. We believe the problem is mainly with the m3 deadbolt cylinders but there may also be some Biaxial® models that could be affected.

A detailed analysis is available together with a video demonstration that clearly shows the method of bypass. This publication has been restricted to locksmiths and the professional security community because of the simplicity of the technique and the potential security ramifications that could result from a public disclosure of the exact method. If you have security responsibility, you may contact the author for access to the restricted document. The password has been posted on ClearStar for security professionals.

Marc Tobias and Matt Fiddler will be addressing this issue at Defcon 15 on August 5 in Las Vegas as part of a two hour presentation regarding design issues with conventional and high security locks. Marc Tobias will also be presenting with regard to high security locks at the HITB conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the first week in September.

® Medeco and Biaxial are registered trademarks of Medeco Security Locks, Inc.

Comments are off for this post

Protected: BYPASS OF THE MEDECO® m3 DEADBOLT LOCK: A Detailed Analysis

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Comments are off for this post

HIGH TECH MODULAR STRONG ROOMS: When they are really after you or your valuables!


Marc Tobias interviews CitySafe’s CEO Karl Alizade at their facility in New Jersey in May, 2007 about their portable strong rooms and vaults and why they are sought after by the military, banks, diamond merchants, cash handling facilities, foreign diplomats, VIPs and even drug dealers.

CitySafe is a small innocuous company located in New Jersey, about an hour south of Newark airport. Their CEO has thirty years of experience in designing, building and opening safes and vaults. Karl routinely consults with major insurance companies in the U.S., UK, and other venues with regard to protection and burglary prevention of high value assets, and the analysis of burglaries and the resultant failure of safes and vaults.

His company produces a modular strong room, built around individual concrete panels for which CitySafe holds several patents. These safes can be transported on palates and easily constructed in the field in a matter of hours by two or three men. They can be much more economical than traditional construction techniques because of their cost and versatility and are the only type of strong room enclosure that can be installed within an existing structure such as an embassy, royal palace or private home.


The heart of the system is a special mixture of cement that is produced in Germany then refined in the United States. The compound will withstand pressures of up to 30,000 pounds per square inch. In layman terms, that is a lot! The concrete is set around an extremely strong re bar matrix, shown in the photographs below. If you need protection against rocket propelled grenades (RPG), small and large arms fire (like fifty caliber machine guns), explosives (including shaped charges), twenty-pound sledge hammers and gas-powered grinders, then this is definitely what you need for your government facility, power plant, business or private residence.

citysafe_0507_5.gif citysafe_0507_8.gif

CitySafe produces custom-sized safes and strong rooms for a wide array of users including diamond mines, third world dictators (who are always worried about their safety and that of their family in a coup), military organizations, public utilities, large jewelry stores and precious stone processing facilities, banks, CEOs of large corporations, diplomats, embassies, cash handling facilities and residences of the wealthy, including drug dealers. Even they have families that they need to be concerned about in the event of a hostile attack or vendetta raid by the competition!


These photographs show methods of attack and the results. Note the matrix of re bar that fortifies the concrete liner.

The company has a large manufacturing facility and because the size of the enclosure is based upon the use of a standardized modular panel, they can produce strong rooms, personal safe rooms and vaults to any requirement with short delivery times. The company is also negotiating licensing arrangements in several foreign locations that will allow local military and security personnel to meet their needs on a more urgent and local basis.

Normally strong rooms are constructed of concrete which is the most secure against attack and does not degrade with age. The problem with this type of construction is that strong rooms and vaults must generally be created at the time of building construction and very expensive vault doors must be set, often with cranes. Obviously, once installed these strong rooms are not movable. In addition, at least thirty days is required for the concrete to set.

The alternative (and less secure) construction technique (and also less expensive) is to employ several layers of wood, surrounded by relatively thin sheet-metal walls. Wood has been used as an insulator for both burglary and fire proofing for hundreds of years. From the security perspective it can lead to real problems. Over a period of twenty years all of the moisture can disappear and the wood will virtually disintegrate, leaving no real protection whatsoever. Some of New York’s Fifth Avenue jewelry stores might want to pay attention to this issue, as Karl Alizade and other experts can attest after evaluating successful burglaries. Many are at risk and do not know it.


The photograph shows wood material that was virtually worthless in a UL listed strong room that was the subject of a burglary of a jewelry store in New York. Karl analyzed the crime scene and was utilized as an expert witness. UL rated this material and certified that it would resist penetration of a ninety-six square inch hole for thirty minutes. According to Karl, it took the New York City Fire Department about four minutes to cut a large hole through the material, as shown in the video.

The CitySafe platform have been tested against a number of threats, including small arms fire, thirty rounds from a Russian Kalashnikov 4.45mm automatic rifle AK74, Kalashnikov SVD super rifle 7.62 APmm, GP25 grenade launcher, 40mm (Russian military), Laws type anti-tank weapon (Russian military), Rocket propelled grenade RPG7, and a variety of explosives and super-attack tools like gas-powered grinders, long crowbars, and twenty-pound sledge hammers.

If you need a strong room, vault, or personal safe room for your family or staff that is impervious to most forms of attack and can be transported to meet individual requirements, then you might want to look at this unique system. The firepower that this concrete will stop is unreal.

During the final firefight, Al Pacino screamed at his attackers in the 1983 movie Scarface “come and get me.” If he had been in a CitySafe enclosure I imagine the movie would have turned out quite differently. But then, we would not have been able to enjoy the farewell plunge of his bullet-riddled body into his swimming pool.

See also
This video describes how the safes are constructed.
This video was shot in Russia and documents the tests that were conducted by the Russian army.

Detailed information about the CitySafe technology can be found in LSS+. You may also contact me if you have questions regarding the security of these enclosures.

Comments are off for this post

A Primer on the Threats from Forced Entry

Drilling a profile cylinder Drilling the plug of a conventional cylinder

See the feature article by the author at

See the White Paper at

A primer is presented on the insecurity of mechanical locks and their ability to be compromised by different methods of forced entry. Many high security locks, such as the Evva 3KS are impervious to attack by drilling and pulling. There are extensive video links that demonstrate what your locks may encounter in an attack. See also the master listing of videos on this site for additional material.

1 comment

Targus Defcon CL Armored Cable Locks: Not Secure

The Targus Defcon CL Armored computer cable lock is touted as the most secure in the industry, but is it? Read the feature article by the author at

Comments are off for this post

The Targus Ipod Lock: A Modicum of Security


Targus is offering what they call a “mobile security lock” that they claim is a perfect “solution” for the millions of iPod owners who are hoping to keep their music players secure from theft. After evaluating the device from three different perspectives, I was not quite sure exactly what the “solution” was that they were describing.

Read the feature article at
and view the video demonstration by the author.

Comments are off for this post