Stuff Made Here vs LockPickingLawyer: The Hacker vs Security Co-op We All Want

The Stuff Made Here vs LockPickingLawyer offers an excellent analogue version of the best hacker vs security relationship.

Yesterday, we reported on an example of an unproductive reaction to when someone comes forward to report a security vulnerability. In a nutshell, the news organization reporting the incident privately reported the vulnerability to the government. The governor responded by threatening to prosecute them. This is, obviously, the worst case scenario because, rather than thanking the people who spotted the vulnerability, the governor is ultimately shooting the messenger in this case.

While we went over why this is such a bad scenario, we thought we’d highlight a positive scenario that features someone creating a security mechanism and what would be an equivalent of a hacker. Indeed, hackers can very easily contribute positively to an organization’s security. Generally, these hackers are considered white hat hackers. They poke around the security, looking for vulnerabilities, then offer suggestions on how to better re-enforce said security. These relationships in the digital realm are increasingly common and has contributed to the security of every day users.

Of course, it can be a bit difficult to explain this – especially to those who don’t know their way around the Internet. So, this has given me the opportunity to cover something I saw a while back that I’ve been wanting to cover for some time: the Stuff Made Here vs the Lockpicking Lawyer collaboration.

For a quick background, Stuff Made Here is a YouTube channel devoted to engineering and building things. A channel similar to Mark Rober. Basically, he builds a lot of really interesting things such as dart boards that ensures that you will always hit a bullseye or a basketball net where you can almost never miss among other things.

In November of 2020, Stuff Made Here released a video of one of the many projects he was working on. It was probably just another video project that seemed like a cool idea. Essentially, the YouTuber wanted to make an unpickable lock. Generally, the idea is that a standard locksmith wouldn’t be able to break in to it. After spending a considerable amount of time troubleshooting and making a working lock that can’t be picked, he decided to call in a lock smith to see if the average lock smith could defeat it. The video is below:

The video garnered a lot more attraction then he was expecting. This is because a number of YouTube viewers also happen to know about another YouTuber: the LockpickingLawyer. The LockpickingLawyer is another YouTube channel devoted to testing the security of various locks. The emphasis is, of course, educational, though the video’s themselves can really burn hours from your day as they can be quite addicting to watch. He’s also known for defeating locks that other experts describe as “unpickable”. As an example of how ego destroying a video can be, we’ll refer you to the Bike Lock Challenge.

So, understandably, many viewers were really wanting to see the Stuff Made Here unpickable lock go up against the LockPickingLawyer. There was not a lot of response from these requests, but as it turns out, Stuff Made Here decided to completely redesign the lock to be even more unpickable. After that, Stuff Made Here sent both the original and what they describe as a V2 version of the lock. Stuff Made Here released another video describing the process of redesigning the lock in May:

At the end of the month, LockPickingLawyer released his response video:

By the end of the video, the LockPickingLawyer offered some suggestions on how to improve the locks in question. He did say that he actually had a lot of fun and that the locks are, to the best of his knowledge, completely original. For someone who has seen so many locks in his life time, that is very high praise to say the least.

Stuff Made Here, in turn, posted a reaction video to this video in June:

What we do know is that Stuff Made Here says that he is going to make a V3 of the unpickable lock thanks to the help he got from LockPickingLawyer. This, in and of itself, will improve the overall design. At this point, we are currently awaiting the V3 lock, but it is definitely something a lot of YouTube viewers are anticipating.

The series of videos is a great analogue version of how much white hack hacking can contribute to the overall quality of security. While the LockPickingLawyer was able to defeat the locks he received, it’s worth pointing out that the original lock did defeat your average locksmith. So, already, we are looking at a lock that would theoretically deter a good number of would-be criminals. The only pitfall is that these locks are definitely not designed for mass production and probably would be impractical for mass distribution. Still, the quality of the locks are seemingly improving even though, at this stage, are quite strong.

The same can be said for any kind of white hat hacking in general. Vulnerabilities are sought after, and suggestions can be sent to improve the overall quality of the security in general. Not all hackers are these scary guys in hoodies typing away in a dark room trying to break into things and cause havoc or steal data. In fact, there are a number of hackers out there that are legitimately trying to make the world a better place. This series of video’s certainly demonstrates that quite nicely in a nice analogue way for those who get lost in the technical theoretical side of things.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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