Hack your bags

On my flight to Ann Arbor last Saturday, (yay MHacks 6!), my colleague Richard and I contemplated the unlikely possibility that someone would thieve the 35lb swag bag we checked in Newark.

Since 9/11, TSA locks have become a fact of life, but I never lock my luggage unless I’m going transatlantic. I mean, what’s the point? Literally thousands of bag inspectors and agents have master keys to the only acceptable locks in the US. It’s an inherently insecure system and even the TSA even acknowledges that agents steal.

Well now, things have come full circle. After the Washington Post published a story with high resolution photos of the TSA’s master keys, dozens of nerds fired up SolidWorks and their 3D printers to test the inevitable: you can 3D print TSA master keys. (FYI, never post photos of your keys online. Anyone with a Dremel / file can make a usable copy based on a good image.)

If you’ve got the hardware, Steven K has published a set of STL models CAD models that are print ready. The repo includes both standard and ‘stubby’ key designs that save material and print faster.

3D TSA master keys screenshot

Back in Ann Arbor, Richard watched, rapt, as a 3D printer tirelessly churned out gears, struts, and other contraptions for eager hackers. I, on the other hand, was perplexed, because I was sure we’d packed more men’s tshirts.

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2017 Neal Shyam