AuthentificationCyberCrimeFirewallSecuritySecurity ManagementVirus

DefCon: Robot Cracks Combination Safe In 30 Minutes

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

Follow on:

A cheap robot has been used by a team of hackers to crack a safe in around half an hour, demonstrating the efficiency of machines over humans.

A cheap robot has been used by a team of hackers to crack a safe in around half an hour, demonstrating the efficiency of machines over humans. 

The $200 robot assembled by hacker team SparkFun Electronics was demonstrated on stage at hacker conference DefCon in Las Vegas, where it was able to crack a combination safe from a leading brand SentrySafe. 

Robot safe buster 

SparkFun robot safeRather than try every combination the lock could have, in a more traditional case of brute force hacking, the robot was able to work out the size of the indents on the dial and figure out the differences between the ‘right’ indents and the ‘wrong’ indents for the safe’s code.

From there it could reduce the amount of combinations it needed to test from a million to one thousand and thus rapidly test combinations faster than a human could. 

The robot was assembled from 3D printed parts and uses an Ardunio chip to power it, while magnets allow for it to be attached to the exterior of a safe. Easily interchangeable parts allow for it to be matched to any combinations safe. 

Of course, the robot cannot tackle digital safes, but they can potentially be hacked in other ways, What SparkFun Electronics showed was how technology can be used to bypass even old physical and ‘analogue’ security systems. 

“No matter how much money you spend on a safe… nothing is impervious,” SparkFun’s Nathan Siedle told the BBC

Some notable tech luminaries are worried about the rise of artificial intelligence and robots posing a threat to humanity, while others are concerned robots will steal human jobs

But with SparkFun Electronic’s robot, perhaps they should be more concerned about robots stealing their valuables. 

Put your knowledge of artificial intelligence to the test. Try our quiz!