Hacking in the name of security

Monday, 22 July 2002, 12:11 PM EST

He fiddles with tumblers and cracks safes for fun, and to alert the security industry to the weaknesses of many locks, which serve as a bulwark of society's physical safety. Locks, whether keyed or combination, melt like butter in his hands.

Lock pickers and safecrackers share with computer hackers a common fascination with exposing security "vulnerabilities." The fraternity of security violators surfaced at a rare meeting of the U.S. computer underground in New York recently that drew 2,000 Internet enthusiasts and security professionals.

"It's real easy, it's real addictive ... to open a lock in two or three pops," said The Key, who is also an active computer hacker and cryptology buff.

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