A team of hackers at Defcon 2017 has used a cheap robot to crack a “leading-brand” combination safe.
According to a report by the BBC, the SparkFun Electronics team was able to open a SentrySafe safe in around 30 minutes.
The robot – which cost $200 to make and is mainly 3D-printed – cracked the safe by reducing the number of possible combinations from one million to 1,000.
It then tried the remaining combinations until the safe opened on 51-36-93.
The report stated that the robot assesses one of the three dials in an analogue combination safe and detects its size and indents.
As the “correct indent” is slightly larger than the rest, the robot was able to identify the correct third number as 93 in 20 seconds.
“The other two dials cannot be measured, but eliminating one greatly reduces the number of possible combinations,” stated the report.
Certain combination safes also account for human error, and have a small range on each number which allows it to open. For example, a safe with “14” selected as one of its numbers will also open on 13 and 15.