Note to Bicyclists: Your $90 Lock Is Vulnerable to a Two-Bit Pen


Bicyclists in New York City “erupted in disbelief and anger this week,” according to the city’s Times, after videos were posted on the Internet showing how a few seconds of work could pick many of the most expensive and common U-shaped locks, including several models made by Kryptonite, the most recognized brand. Mashing the empty barrel of a ballpoint pen into the cylindrical keyhole and turning it clockwise does the trick that has struck fear into the hearts of bicycle owners, especially those in New York, where thousands of bikes are stolen each year.

“There was murmuring on various Web sites, and so I decided to go home and pick up a pen and see it if works,” said Benjamin Running, a graphic designer who lives in downtown Brooklyn. “Sure enough, within 30 seconds I had broken into my $90 lock. I was in awe. My jaw literally dropped to the floor. It was so easy.” The mechanism is part of bicycle locks used by millions of people around the country, not just those made by Kryptonite (although the company said yesterday that a new and better model was on the way). The problem could have wider consequences. Lock experts said the fault was with a particular type of cylindrical lock that is used not just in bike locks but in vending machines, cable locks for laptop computers, alarm system panels and countless other places.


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