NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – You do everything to keep your home secure, but could you be opening your front door to crooks without even realizing it?
CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported on a consumer warning about “cloning keys,” and gave it a try herself. She was able to gain access to a home that wasn’t hers, simply by using a photo of the house key.
“It’s kind of scary that it’s so accessible so quickly,” homeowner Nina DeRosa said.
New technology designed to help homeowners duplicate keys could pose a huge security risk in the wrong hands.
As Jiang reported, there are two new apps and a website that use the technology, all you have to do is take a photo of any key, upload it and you’ll receive a copy of the key in the mail several days later.
If you don’t feel like waiting to get your key in the mail, you can even check out a kiosk that copies your key in 30 seconds.
“It’s really expensive to get a locksmith,” tech expert Lance Ulanoff with Mashable said.
Ulanoff says it could be hard for criminals to resist using the quick and easy technology as they make keys to everything from your locker to your safe.
“Once they have it, they’re kind of in business,” he said.
“There are certainly times when I’ve left them on my desk, or I’ve left them in the locks in my desk drawers, or even in my door,” homeowner James DeRosa said.
James never imagined CBS2 would get inside his home so quickly, even though he gave permission to duplicate his wife’s key.
“It kind of defeats the purpose of having a key. It lets people do whatever they want, however they want without your permission,” he said.
But the founder of “cyber locksmith” site KeysDuplicated.com, Ali Rahimi, said his site won’t accept photos that look like anyone could have taken them from a distance.
“We ask for both sides of the key, in part to make sure the person taking the picture has enough physical access to the key to turn it over,” Rahimi said.
But not everyone is convinced.
“The bottom line is it’s an unsecure method to duplicate keys,” security expert Alan Schissel said.
He says the only way to protect yourself is to protect your keys at all times.
“Don’t keep them with other identification which can tie up the connection between that key and a particular business,” Schissel said.
In order to duplicate a key at the kiosk, you must scan your fingerprint which will be held on file.
All of the services say they require a valid credit card number and address so in the event of a burglary, the duplicated key can be traced back to someone.