Digging and Clicking: How I Learned Lock Picking

photo of me

I arrived to work on Monday August 11, 2014 tired from the weekend, a morning I was anything but excited for. Little did I know that within minutes I would be awakened with power.

The Hack

We had started setting up the Battle School hacking booth at the office the week before. As I approached my desk I noticed the structure; I was surprised to see how much progress had been made. In awe, I looked around at my colleagues and expressed my excitement to try out and learn about the different hacking skills.

Before I was able to take a seat, I was dragged away by Geoffrey Vaughan, an Ethical Hacker at Security Compass. He was holding several hacking tools: a chain, a gold lock, and different picks that resembled the gadgets I was used to seeing at nail salons.

“Ready to learn?” he asked. Without much time to think about my response, I had the chain bordering me and was attached to the booth. I had the lock in my hands and was grasping onto the tools that would ultimately lead to my escape.

He quickly drew me a diagram of the lock’s interior, played a demonstration video, and explained what I should be feeling for when I crowd the tools inside. All seemed reasonably easy, but once I glanced over at the actual lock, it seemed impossible.

But I started digging, listening for the different sounds of clicking, and with a little help I heard the final click; it had opened.

Easier than I expected, I raised my head back up and gasped, “That’s it?”

The Aftermath

I felt powerful. I had achieved an adrenaline rush that I would normally be acquiring after finishing my first large cup of coffee.

I had previously asked Geoff why he had chosen to be an ethical hacker and what fascinated him about the industry. He said the first time he accomplished a hack it gave him this extraordinary feeling of triumph in which I wouldn’t understand until I had experienced it myself.

Now knowing what he meant, I was eager to try it again; I was overcome with the power of my potential. I was now striving to achieve the same feeling of exploit over and over again.

It was now clear to me how someone could take that feeling and run with it. The line between right and wrong can simply blur and even lead to an unanticipated addiction to the thrill.

The Lesson

Working at Security Compass, I am surrounded by a number of ethical hackers. They handle the feeling of power with an honourable purpose of keeping businesses effective and safe from various malicious activities. Knowing when to accept a conquering is what defines a hacker as either ethical or corrupt. It is almost like a superpower you must decide whether to practice for good or evil.

The lesson here is to know what you are capable of. Although I had just opened the same lock twice, I felt unstoppable. Despite the fact I do anticipate acquiring further hacking skills; I choose to be superhero on my journey, not a villain.

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