Fun with Security Codes and Cards

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Fun with Security Codes and Cards

One of the investigators with our group likes to eat, but he doesn’t like to cook. He’s a delivery or takeout type of guy. He was recounting a story when on a particularly cold day in Phoenix (45 degrees) he thought it best to order in. When he called for the Chinese food delivery, he offered to give the delivery driver the pin number for the gate, so that the driver could enter without calling. The delivery driver stated, in a polite but dismissive tone, that he didn’t need to call, as he had the universal code for the fire department, and that he could go in and out of any complex as he needed.

Traveling to yet another fair city, I picked up my trusty rental car and charge off in an unknown maze of freeways and by‐ways. I spent three days working in the fair city, and than headed back to the airport rental car return. Being a child of depression era parents, I always top off the tank myself. I spotted a gas station, pulled in and then began the “find the filler cover release Macarena”. While executing the moves with some sense of style, I found a “gate key” card that I assumed was left by a previous renter. I put the card in my pocket with the full intent of turning it in at the counter. I arrived at the airport, and was literally handed a receipt for the car within 20 seconds ‐‐ and forgot about the card. Back at home, it rode around in my backpack for months. When chauffeuring some of the offspring to a party at their friend’s home, I was required to have the invitation that contained the gate key code – right, that’s back at the house. Calling the house, neither the nine year old, my wife, or the dog could find the invite.

Then, in a moment of both desperation and curiosity ‐‐ I remembered the gate card key in the backpack, placed it in the slot, and viola! The gate opened. This was cool. I continue to use the gate key with great fanfare, especially with impressionable kids in the car, since this is exactly what an investigator should have ‐‐ a magic gate key. It works in most every residential community gate I have tried. I asked a security professional, “What’s the magic?” She told me it is one of two errors. It is a master key lost by a security company, or more likely, looking at the key it contained not just the master program, but also the local complex’s key program. Same problem with the pin code for gate access. It seems that for several companies, the default and master key are the same. For a secure system, the default is for “boot up” and should require that a new master code be installed. Either way, I am keeping it and will continue to deploy the card (and now the pin code since I have that too) ‐‐ always with great fanfare when I deliver my charges to their festivities. As for our family, we do not live in a gated community, and frankly, I don’t think many of them would have us.

Note to security people: remove default settings, create a new master code, and to one in particular thank you for the card. I will use it for good and not evil.

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