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How Do Keys Open Locks? An Engineer Explains

The sequence of depths of the valleys on a key acts like a code that must match the lock.

Have you ever wondered how keys work to open locks? I teach a course in computer security where we learn how locks function – and also how they can be broken or bypassed. We do this because locks teach important principles about security in general.

If you look closely at a key, you’ll see its upper edge has a bunch of V-shaped valleys. If you inspect the key more closely, perhaps with a ruler, you’ll notice the bottoms of these valleys are equally spaced. The depth of the valleys encodes a sequence that is accepted by the lock, with each valley contributing one value to the combination.

Source: SciTechDaily