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Kaba Simplex Locks Class Action Lawsuit Claims Magnet Can Override PIN Code Technology

Feb 4, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

Locks that cost in excess of $300 should be extremely secure, but a lawsuit filed in New York says Kaba Ilco's expensive Simplex series of keyless locks is anything but.  According to the lawsuit, anyone - an amateur - can open a Kaba Simplex Keyless Lock in just a matter of seconds. The Kaba keyless locks class action lawsuit accuses Kaba Ilco of, among other things, negligence, failure to warn, breach of warranty, and fraud.

The Kaba Simplex lock lawsuit involves Series 1000, 2000, 3000, 6000, 7000, 9000 locks. These locks feature a technology in which a PIN number chosen by the lock’s owner is used to operate them, rather than a key, magnetic card, or other means. Kaba Ilco claims this system is more secure than other types of access control. These popular locks are used by countless businesses, apartment buildings, hotels, motels, college dorms and even public bathrooms.

According to the Kaba Simplex Keyless Locks class action lawsuit, the PIN code technology employed by the locks can be easily overridden with nothing more than a rare-earth magnet. By placing a magnet small enough to fit in the palm of one’s hand on the front of a Kaba keyless lock, an intruder can have access to a premise in just seconds. The Kaba Simplex keyless pushbutton locks lawsuit contends that the defective locks have to be replaced.

According to a report in Forbes Magazine, the Simplex locks were designed using a critical component called the combination chamber that has been discovered to be sensitive to a strong magnetic field. Kaba reported that it only learned of this security vulnerability in August 2010. In its motion for a change of venue, the company claims that rare-earth magnets were not “commercially feasible” when the locks were designed and would constitute a state-of-the-art attack for which it should not be liable.

However, as the Forbes article points out, many lock manufacturers and security experts have been aware of the availability of strong magnets that are capable of opening some locking mechanisms. Despite this widespread awareness, Kaba continued to use this design for years in their locks. The author of the article maintains that every vulnerable lock should be upgraded to reduce the threat from this kind of attack, especially in high security applications.

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