You would be hard pressed finding a new safe or vault these days that does not have an electronic keypad lock. Electronic safe locks have almost completely replaced mechanical locks. The electronic locks are fast to open, easy to change the combination on, have options for delayed opening and a lot more user friendly then the older style combination locks where you spin a dial to the correct numbers.
The old fashioned mechanical dial up safe lock made by manufacturers such as Sargent and Greenleaf had been used on safes for many years. Even the most basic 3 wheel safe lock gave a high level of security to safes. Safe dialers and manipulation techniques did give a way to open these mechanical locks but it took time. Safe dialers had to be hooked up for days in many cases to work out a safe combination.
Electronic safe locks are all mass produced and every model is pretty much identical to the next. If you want to break into a safes with an electronic lock, you just need to find a vulnerability with one safe lock. If you can find a way to open one then you can open every safe with that particular lock.
Well this is exactly what has happened. Electronic safe locks made by major manufacturers have been found to have flaws which can be exploited rather simply. By probing the keypad or battery wires connected to the safe it is possible to examine the processes which happen inside the processor chip of the lock. The processes cause electronic fluctuations which can be examined using an oscilloscope or specially designed circuit. It is possible to determine the correct keypress of a safe lock as opposed to the wrong keypress. As each process inside the chip is perfectly timed, any variation can be measured.
You can make a tool to break into these safes very easily. As they are electronic locks the tool can be used in a matter of seconds. A bypass of an electronic safe lock requires little skill and there is no barrier to opening the safe, once you have a bypass tool.
To make the matter even worse, there is no sign of forced entry when using these bypass tools. You could just be faced with an empty safe, next time you open the door.
The bypass techniques work on electronic safe locks with the highest security rating these locks are some of the most common locks used on bank vaults, ATM’s, jewelers safes, high security home safes and even cheaper home safes. This newly found vulnerability leaves almost every electronically operated safe very insecure.
While I am not going into detail here about which brands are affected, I would like to assure you this is a very widespread problem and measures should be taken if you are storing anything valuable in a safe secured by any type of electronic lock.