The class-action lawsuit involving Kaba-Ilco’s keyless Simplex Pushbutton Mechanical Locks is moving forward. Recently, Kaba-Ilco filed a motion asking for a change of venue for the Simplex locks lawsuit.
According to the Kaba 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.
The lawsuit, which was filed in New York, claims the design of the Simplex (Series 1000, 2000, 3000, 6000, 7000, 9000) pushbutton locks is defective and insecure. The Kaba keyless locks, which retail for $300 or more, are used by countless businesses, apartment buildings, hotels, motels, college dorms and even public bathrooms. 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. The company claims the locks are ideal for locations with regular personnel turnover, like data processing centers, employee entrances, research labs, apartment complexes, and dormitories.
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.
According to the Forbes article, if the class-action lawsuit is allowed to proceed, Kaba could potentially be liable for millions of dollars because of the widespread use of these allegedly defective locks.
Kaba released a new design to combat a magnet attack, according to the Forbes article. Unfortunately, as the article points out, there are still potentially millions of Kaba Simplex keyless locks in service in critical applications that can be easily opened.