padlocks with backdoors - TSA approved

David Chessler chessler at
Tue Feb 27 01:09:00 EST 2007

At 03:20 PM 2/26/2007, you wrote:
><?xml version="1.0" encoding="US-ASCII"?> Hi,
>has this been mentioned here before?
>I just had my crypto mightmare experience.
>I was in a (german!) outdoor shop to complete my equipment
>for my next trip, when I came to the rack with luggage padlocks
>(used to lock the zippers).
>While the german brand locks were as usual, all the US brand locks
>had a sticker
>    "Can be opened and re-locked by US luggage inspectors".
>Each of these (three digit code) locks had a small keyhole for the
>master key to open. Obviously there are different key types
>(different size, shape, brand) as the locks had numbers like "TSA005"
>tell the officer which key to use to open that lock.
>Never seen anything in real world which is such a precise analogon of
>a crypto backdoor for governmental access.
>Ironically, they advertise it as a big advantage and important feature,
>since it allows to arrive with the lock intact and in place instead of
>cut off.
>This is the point where I decided to have nightmares from now on.

This is why I don't bother with padlocks until I get to the hotel 
room. It is a good idea to slow down the petty thief, but a "twist 
tie" from a plastic bag will work. I use the nylon straps used to 
hold cable bunches in place. I use many different colors, so it is 
most unlikely that a petty thief would have one handy (black or white 
are very common.

When last I flew they TSA had cut the cable ties. I took the suitcase 
directly to the baggage desk and we examined it together. (Do not 
pile up books in your suitcase. The TSA does not distinguish between 
books and Semtex: it considers both equally dangerous.)

D__/d   chessler at
               chessler at  

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