You may have seen a few photos like the one above, spread all over social media. You know the score, someone gets the keys to their new house and takes a photograph with the door key in the foreground. How lovely!
Every time I see such a photo I get a terrible feeling in my gut. With social media like it is, with so much information about you - posted by you - and about you. It's not going to be too difficult to work out where this property is. In some posts, people even tag where they are, it shows you on a map! This is called Geo-tagging and I really advise you check your settings to make sure the images your posting do not include GPS information regarding your location embedded in its metadata!
This couldn't be a bigger security risk if it tried. We've already established how easy it is to locate this lovely new property. Posts on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram or whatever, will easily allow us find out where this is. A quick dredge of previous posts will probably give us the precise street. And with a photo of the property we can quickly identify it. I mean, a thief can even cross-check against Goolge Earth street view and match the property with its exact whereabouts.
Now let's take another look at the key...
With a bit of photo-shopping we get this....
Which anyone who knows anything about keys can decode as 2-1-1-2-3 - that's the biting of this key. Now - a thief doesn't have to be too worried about how accurate this is, they can easily cut a few variations to make sure they have it right. They can easily match up the blank using the shape of the head of the key, and the ward running through the blade. And again, they can even cut a few on various key types that match these features just to be sure.
In short, it's not going to be hard - using other information posted across various social media platforms - to find the whereabouts of this property, and then to clone the key. That's ridiculous. And yet I see it all the time. Here's a tip: Don't be so damn stupid. If you really feel the need to publish your life online in this manner, use a stock image - no one cares anyway.
Another one that never ceases to amaze me is people rocking up to a restaurant and putting their keys on the table. Now let's imagine it's a swanky restaurant, the type the wealthy attend. All that's required is a half decent zoom lens that can grab a good enough photograph to clone the keys, then it's just a question of following you home to locate the property.
A photo like this can easily decode these keys. Sure you might have to make a couple of clones, different gauges perhaps, but you're pretty much assured entry as soon as you've identified the property.
And while admittedly this isn't going to affect most of us. It can still affect some of us - and since it's easily avoided, it would make sense to just keep your keys private.
Social media 'life-bragging' isn't only a security risk when posting photographs of your keys or leaving them visible for cloning, though. Posting photos of you in your garden, with information regarding access from the rear of your property can provide everything a thief needs to know, including points of possible entry, brand or type of doors and windows, and more. A thief would love to be able to photograph your property from the rear - so don't do it for them.
Another classic is photographs of new equipment, a new $4000 stereo set-up, a huge flat-screen TV. You might have even had an insurance pay out and your house is full of loads of new kit. Why would you tell someone this? It's almost like you're running an advert for potential criminals. I would suggest to not even mention such things.
This is my friends $4000 new stereo set-up which he posted on Facebook, just three posts after his 'So we're booked for Thailand in January.' Not clever.
And finally, and in many ways the most insane social media posting that is a threat to your domestic security - those holiday snaps. There you are, on a beach, lapping up the tropical sunshine, cocktail in hand. "Does life get any better?" you write under the photo. Perhaps it doesn't get any better, but it can get a whole lot worse. because your holiday photos, you, your partner and kids - is a blatant advert that you are away and that your house is empty. There's nothing more appealing to a thief than an empty house, especially one owned by a family who can afford tropical, family holidays. There's money there, and there's likely a whole load of high-end products, jewelry and other valuables. Just wait until you're home before sharing your holiday pics, and make that clear when you post them.
"Hey look at us on holiday and not at home right now"
I hope you found this useful. It's easy to get carried away when you're excited, posting pics of your new keys. But remember the less obvious risks like the visibility of your keys, and those damn holiday photos. And come on, if your friends are stuck at their desk on a gloomy, dark day - do they really want to see you in the sun? Of course not.
You can CLICK HERE to read my 'interview with a thief', with tips and advice from someone who knows, and I think you'll be surprised at what advice he gives - it really could save you from both the loss and trauma of having your house burgled.
Chris @ Lock Pick World