back to article Kensington revamps laptop lock

Kensington has introduced a new laptop locking mechanism it hopes will ensure fewer of us lose our computers to the light-fingered. Dubbed ClickSafe, the system uses the famous "Kensington Slot" - found on almost all portable computers these days - into which you fit a new "anchor unit". The ClickSafe lock simply clips directly …

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As a kid growing up in the 70's

Whenever I hear Kensington Lock, I always think it should be somewhere in Middlesex, TW11. Somewhere near Teddington Lock. I blame programmes like Magpie!

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Stumbling block......

£60 entry fee.

I'll take a standard lock thanks for £15.

The large enourmo firm I used to work for felt it was cheaper to just deal out a new laptop if one got nicked than actually go to the lengths of trying to secure them and get users to give a damn about them.

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Funny...

the enourmo firm I used to work for made it a disciplinary issue if you had your laptop on the desk without a hair grip friendly kensington time waster. However if you lost it in the course of an evenings drinking, and remembered to fololow the correct procedure the next day you could get away with it, and get a new machine to boot!

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£60

Does seems a bit high for a padlock and bit of wire.

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Yup

The enormocorp I worked encouraged 'stealing' fellow employees' unlocked laptops, so that their managers could give them a stern talking-to, among other things. So we locked our laptops up with a cable that I'm sure was roughly equivalent to this '7 strand / to avoid cutting' advertised here.

But our business involved frequently cutting half inch steel cables.

So the means to defeat the laptop security was never more than a few paces away, and never secured.

Not to mention those lock slots are almost entirely useless - I've tested out a few on dead laptops (including those metal ones from Cupertino) by attaching the lock and giving it a good whack on the edge of a table. 100% of the time the lock comes off with minimal cosmetic damage to the laptop on the first attempt. Even easier than the hydraulic cable cutters.

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RE: James Hughes 1

"Does seems a bit high for a padlock and bit of wire."

Not when your personal information and details to your bank account are on your £400 laptop it's not

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Anonymous Coward

Considering

that the previous lock could be opened with a bit of toilet roll cardboard wrapped around a bic pen, it's not surprising they went to a different form factor this time. Maybe give the old hair pin another shot?

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Happy

That easy?

I've always used my 'Klum key' bought online from Hong Kong for $30 to pick those.

Assume 5seconds/lock with one of those. It's done in a moment to clean out a conference room...

Not that I'd do anything more serious than swapping the locks around to see the chaos when the meeting is over and everyone wants to hurry to catch the airplane home.

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Crap

Have you ever actually used a Kensington lock, yet alone picked one? What are the odds on managing to open a five pin lock with a bit of cardboard? Not high at all. Don't confuse a real Kensignton lock with the cheap copy you got from Poundland.

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Anonymous Coward

Then let me offer some evidence

http://www.boingboing.net/2005/05/18/howto_open_laptop_lo.html

http://geektechnique.org/media/kensington623.wmv

I haven't tried it myself, but the guy in the video is pretty well known to tinker with that sort of thing. If he says kensington then I'm willing to accept that the lock is indeed kensington. It also means that he's pretty good at opening locks, but his fingers or choice of cardboard won't be so magic that others cannot possibly reproduce this feat.

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@the spectacularly refined chap

Don't be so sure. There have been some spectacular fails especially for "tubular" locks. Look at this Kryptonite lock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptonite_lock). It looks the business doesn't it? Right up until you see someone could open it by jamming the open end of a biro into the lock and twisting.

I expect a good number of laptop locks suffer a similar vulnerability and articles exist that show how to construct a "key" from bogroll cardboard.

These cables should be regarded for what they are which is a deterrent to stop casual theft. Anyone seriously wishing to steal a laptop would just use bolt cutters to cut the steel wire (and deal with the lock later), or just rip the laptop away from the cable even if it broken the case in the process.

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Not crap

"What are the odds on managing to open a five pin lock with a bit of cardboard?"

100% A couple of years back when the videos first appeared about this I tried it. Yes on a real Kensington lock. Yes it works. It's easy and quick to do.

We didn't run out and replace all the locks but new locks have a flat key (and are cheaper).

I also bought a new bike lock as it had the same weakness.

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Better to spend the money on insurance...

Laptop insurance is about the same price, spend the money on that, do some backups and encypt your drives...

That way if it does get nicked at least you get a new laptop out of it...

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Big Brother

We have theft cover

on our machines, and Kensington locks make not a blind bit of difference WRT to that; if it isn't locked in a car boot or in a locked desk drawer to which only the designated user has access it doesn't matter if it's in Fort Knox surrounded by Blofeldt's piranha pool, electrified punji sticks and a team of ninjas, you're still stuffed if someone lifts it. I know they mean well, but seriously...

BB, although even HE probably wouldn't keep 'em happy...

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FAIL

Moneyspinner?

If someone is bright enough to break into an office, a 3mm thick steel cable will take all of 1 second to get through with a pair of snips. We're forced to use them at work, continually locking an unlocking the damn things when I bet I could remove the 'security' cable with 2 paperclips and 5 seconds.

They've also installed a boot password

'Why?'

'It's because of theft'

'Is that the same password that you can remove by taking out the BIOS battery for 30 seconds?'

'Yes, shuddup ok, it's my job'

Brilliant use of company resources. I'd love to be paid to drive about setting passwords on thousands of laptops, that guy must be on a right cushy number.

Corporate security is one huge moneyspinner, all of it fooled by chimps who leave their laptop on the train.

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WTF?

Really

'Is that the same password that you can remove by taking out the BIOS battery for 30 seconds?'

Really, on a laptop?

How f**king old / crap are your machines? Most decent ones you haven't been able to do this for 5yrs+

And as for cutting a 3mm toughened cable with snips, good luck. Bolt cutters yes, but then they could also hacksaw the desk coudn't they? It's to make it more difficult, not impossible.

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Stop

Flawed

The slot you find a bit everywhere is not always in a metal part.

Recently we had a series of portable,permanently installed , projectors which had locks

with the small slot.Well lo and behold , anyone with a pair of pliers could take it out, it was simply a slot in the case plastic with no metal behind. If the device to be locked has it in metal , perhaps . but i wouldnt spend a bundle on a great lock if the slot is not secure in itself and under metal.

Best security always being the same : keep your eyes on your portable and carry it if you leave a room for any period of time.Keep an eye on it.

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FAIL

how much?

60 quid for a small bit of metal and some wire? oh come on. surely some better proposition can be had here?

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SRS
Coffee/keyboard

My company gets around this by issuing us all ThinkPads

...that are so plasticky and fugly that no-one in their right mind would dream of stealing one.

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Pint

Kensington is good but no better than the hole in the laptop!

Some laptops with well known names have poor quality sockets for security locks - a 'scissor' style Belkin sure doesn't work with several Acer laptops. Just waggle the Belkin and it will fall out.

When I travel by air, I secure the laptop with the Kensington then thread the security wire through the handles of other baggage and the finally thread by trousers belt through the security wire loop.

This means if you fall asleep no one will be making off with your goodies!

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The dog ate my title

I'm sure I'm not the only cyclist who discovered exactly how useless cable locks are by having my bike stolen. As far as I know, the only secure cable locks are the armoured ones that weigh more than your bike (or laptop).

Then again, the armour-plating may just be for effect. There's a huge amount of psychology in theft and theft-prevention, perhaps because most thieves aren't great original thinkers. Why did they steal car radios so often? They're worth very little because everybody already has one, except for the people who've had them stolen. Why do retail jewellers have to lock their stock of of crap (tm) jewellery in a two-ton safe every night? It's not worth much, and the value is quite hard to recover. At a company where I used to work somebody broke into the machine room and stole a three-year-old MicroVAX. Good luck flogging that in the pub carpark!

Does anyone else remember the craze for stealing RAM out of computers? Presumably laptops are the theft-fashion of the moment.

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More about protecting against thefts of opportunity

"If someone is bright enough to break into an office, a 3mm thick steel cable will take all of 1 second to get through with a pair of snips."

I would think it's not so much the determined nighttime break-in artist that the locks are meant to deter, but the guy who either has access already, or has managed to socially engineer his way in. The night cleaner, maybe, or a 'friend' of someone on staff.

They probably don't have a bolt cutter handy, and might not have much time. If they're walking along down the hall, and the spot an unlocked, unattended laptop, and nobody's around, they can easily swipe it. They aren't as likely to bother with a locked laptop, especially if there's lots of gear around that's not locked down.

It's like when my house was broken into in 1996: they didn't bother taking the stereo, the 100-disc CD changer, the two NeXT computers, the PC. They took the CDs out of the CD rack, because that was easiest. (Unfortunately for the dumb bastard, half of the CDs were just empty cases because the discs were in the CD changer. So he only got my least-favorite discs. )

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Pirate

Bolt Cutters?

I have had to cut Kensington locks off before now. All I used was the cutting blades on a standard pair of pliers. Simples.

Another technique for companies with many K-locks is to use another key, any K-lock key. Put it into the lock you have lost the key for - and turn - firmly. The retaining pins bend and the K-lock pops out of the laptop. Again - simples.

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FAIL

It comes with a key? Then it's an automatic Epic Fail.

Manged a group of less than 150 loaner laptops, cables with keys were the worst. Users were always losing them. Combination in the way to go. But not the ones with the flippy thing on the end for when you want to reset the password. They need to be pre-coded, or use a screwdriver to reset.. Personal preference is for pre-coded in lots of 25 because then you have the master list of combinations to match the codes printed on the locks.

Oh, and one of the techs had it down to about 35 seconds, certainly never more than 60 with the hack saw blade to cut through the cables on the ones that were fubar.

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I have a cheap combination lock on mine.

Its a shit lock. I had it on a desktop once (no one borrows my machine anymore when theirs goes faulty) and it was faster to crack it with eyes shut than crawl under the desk and do it with the number, but I digress...

If someone does rob the place, they are more likely to make off with someone else's laptop if mine has a simple lock holding it down.

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