When The Washington Post posted a story about the "secret life" of TSA bag handlers, it thought it'd spice up its presentation with a neat shot of master baggage keys being spread in someone's hand like a fan. As it happens, that was unwise, as when it comes to standard keys like those used for baggage, all that's needed to duplicate them is a clear image.
That's a fact that GitHub user Xylintol wasn't ignorant of, so he decided to get to work and draw up some CAD files. Despite not having baggage with TSA-approved locks to test with, Xylintol released the files to the Web anyway, in case anyone out there could drum up a proof-of-concept. Sure enough, one user confirmed that the CAD files could in fact create perfect replicas of TSA master keys.
Montreal-based Unix admin Bernard Bolduc was the one who confirmed that this was able to work, and even though the key he printed used PLA plastic in lieu of metal, it was strong enough to open his TSA-approved lock on the very first try, and proved it with a video.
OMG, it's actually working!!! pic.twitter.com/rotJPJqjTg— Bernard Bolduc (@bernard) September 9, 2015
As neat as this is, though, this revelation means that anyone who owns a TSA-approved lock can no longer put much confidence in it. On the other side of the coin, if you happen to have a TSA-approved lock and a 3D printer, you may have just found a new weekend project!