Total number of combinations assuming no repeats (ie 8888) is: 10 * 9 * 8 * 7 = 5040 I know that's not the answer, but its 0:30 am over her...

• (cs)

Inefficient but simple solution in Ruby:

`(0..9999).map{|i| "%04i" % i}.join`
• mr X (unregistered)

That's the same system as the door entry on my workplace! I've been wondering how short a sequence would be enough to brute-force it for ages.

• Frank (unregistered)

Quite honestly, this is a ethically questionable code challenge.

You're not only revealing how these lock boxes work (Which, yes, would be commonly available information), but you're announcing "to the world" that they're simple to break into, with a solution to how to do it.

Why do I have issue with this? People selling their house have a realtor, who will use lockboxes. For the seller, there's no guarantee that others will use spin-wheel, combination, or push-button lockboxes, and the seller has no say on what will be employed.

You're now telling people how to get a key for doors to houses for people who are selling for one reason or another. Most will not use this information in a negative manner, however, some douche out there will take this information (which might not have been apparent) as an invitation to start ripping people off.

Think about it - you're selling your house. You're not home most of the time (Work), and neighbours are used to seeing people coming and going into your home. And then you find a website which is announcing a contest, for fun, on how to get a key for your house.

Strike anyone else as questionable / bad idea? Tinfoil hat wearer I'm not, I just have issues with other people's ethics (Such as the dick who did this to a friend some months ago)

No repeats would be a bit strange, why wouldn't there be repeats? Without repeats it would be 10^4 aka 10,000 codes, or 40,000 individual digits.

Assuming the best redundancy possible, the first code will take 4 key presses and each additional keypress will get another combination for 9999 additional codes, that's 10,003 digits bare minimum.

This seems like an interesting challenge. I think it would be useful if we had a program to test a given output to confirm it is correct.

• damage (unregistered) in reply to Frank

Oops, I meant 'with repeats'.

Also, Frank, I think a person could pick the lock faster than they could enter a code of at least 10,003 digits. Even if they had to learn lockpicking from scratch.

• Mike (unregistered)

I didn't actually check this but wouldn't you grab a large quantity of possible combinations simply by:

n = total numbers ; for ( int i = 1 ; i <= n ; i++ ) num = 1 ; for ( int j = 2 ; j <= n ; j++ ) num = ( num + i ) % n ;

• (cs)

Isn't TRWTF that there's a Thread in the "Coders Challenge" forum here on TDWTF which is about three years old, and covers exactly that problem?

http://forums.thedailywtf.com/forums/t/5824.aspx

• Vollhorst (unregistered)

• Fritz (unregistered)

π (pi) will open any door.

• smit (unregistered)

WITH numbers AS (SELECT LEVEL - 1 AS num FROM DUAL CONNECT BY LEVEL < 11) SELECT SYS_CONNECT_BY_PATH (num, '-') AS combination FROM numbers CONNECT BY NOCYCLE PRIOR num <> num;

...now that's a neat trick!

• Anon Ymous (unregistered)

When I bought my house, someone left one of these (the type was a 4-digit lock where you scroll the individual digits into place and push a button to open it). Knowing that there were only 10,000 possibly combinations I decided to brute force it open (change a digit, push the button, repeat).

It ended up taking about 10 minutes. The correct combination turned out to be my house number! Tried it on another house for sale in the neighborhood... success. (I did not enter the house, just tested the code on the box.) I informed the builder selling the houses and they assured me that they take security very seriously. There wasn't anything in the houses though since they were new.

• (cs)

Planning to rob some houses, are we? ;-)

• Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to Vollhorst
Vollhorst:
At least he makes it easy for us to block. I now have a filter that blocks anything with "please-support" in the URL because it's obviously going to be an advert or a beg. Screw your livelihoods, website owners!
• db48x (unregistered) in reply to Frank

It's not ethically questionable at all. It's far better to encourage people to think critically about the security measures that they employ than it is to try to hide this kind of information. Hiding information never works, those people who would abuse it already have it, while the rest of us need to be sure we understand how the technology around us works.

Of course, the sad fact is that all locks are much easier to get past than the manufacturers claim. I'm sure there's an easier way to attack a lock like this than brute-forcing the combination, but it's an interesting programming problem nevertheless. There's a known algorithm for finding the shortest sequence when the attempts can overlap like this, but I can't quite think of the name…

• (cs)

C# brute force method. Uses string search to avoid duplicates.

```        //Brute Force method. Accepts up to 16 buttons
string CreateLockBoxSequence(uint numberOfDigits, uint numberOfButtons)
{

StringBuilder output = new StringBuilder();
uint numberBase = 10;
if (numberOfButtons > 10)
{
numberBase = 16;
}
if (numberOfButtons > 16)
{
throw new ArgumentException("Number of buttons cannot be greater than 16");
}
uint loopCount = (uint)Math.Round(Math.Pow(numberBase,numberOfDigits));
for (uint i = 0; i < loopCount; i += numberBase)
{
//This loop serves to  omit unused digits.
for (uint k = 0; k < numberOfButtons; k++)
{
StringBuilder formatBuilder = new StringBuilder();
string sequence = Convert.ToString(i + k, (int)numberBase);
for (int j = sequence.Length; j < numberOfDigits; j++)
{
formatBuilder.Append("0");
}
formatBuilder.Append(sequence);
sequence = formatBuilder.ToString();
//Append if the sequence doesn't already exist
if (!output.ToString().Contains(sequence))
{
output.Append(sequence);
}
}
}
return output.ToString();
}
```

Addendum (2010-03-31 10:21): This method produces 10,124 digits for a (4,10) input.

• Here's solution in C# (unregistered)

static int buttons = 10; static int digits = 4;

static void res(List<int> combs, List<int> nums, int digs) { int i; if (digs == 0) { for (i = 0; i < digits; i++) Console.Write(combs[i]); return; } for (i = nums.Count -1 ; i >=0 ; i--) { int oldnum = nums[i]; combs.Add(oldnum); nums.RemoveAt(i);

``````            res(combs, nums, digs - 1);
combs.RemoveAt(combs.Count - 1);
}

}
``````

static void Main(string[] args) {

``````        List<int> comb = new List<int>();
List<int> nums = new List<int>();
for (int i = 0; i < buttons; i++)
{
}
res(comb, nums, digits);
}
``````
• Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to Frank
Frank:
Quite honestly, this is a ethically questionable code challenge.

You're not only revealing how these lock boxes work (Which, yes, would be commonly available information), but you're announcing "to the world" that they're simple to break into, with a solution to how to do it.

I'm sorry but revealing commonly known information is not "ethically questionable". You seem to be suggesting that this knowledge, whilst widely known, should not be shared. What this amounts to is the real-life version of security by obscurity and we all know where that leads - a false sense of security that may feel nice but doesn't actually protect you in any way.

Sharing common knowledge is NEVER morally questionable. If anything, it is morally questionable to attempt to hide or cover up such information.

• MichaelM (unregistered) in reply to Frank
1. Bad guys already know. Homeowners should know too so they can make an informed decision about using lock boxes or not.

2. It's not the weakest link. Want to break into a house? Pretend you're interested, take a tour and leave a window unlocked. That'll also give you a chance to see if there's anything worth stealing and if there is an alarm system.

3. You've still got 10,000 or however many combinations there are to go through. This would just show a way to hit them all.

• Drew (unregistered) in reply to MyKey_
MyKey_:
Inefficient but simple solution in Ruby:
`(0..9999).map{|i| "%04i" % i}.join`

Similar one in Groovy

`(0..9999).each() { printf("%04d", it) }`
• db48x (unregistered) in reply to db48x

well, it's a Hamiltonian path around the graph of permutations of length n-1. Perhaps in the morning the name will come to me, or Wikipedia will divulge the answer.

• (cs)
Taking it a step further, the sequence 4-8-2-9-5-1-4-5 would cover the codes 4-8-2-9 8-2-9-5 9-5-1-4 and 5-1-4-5.

... and if your code works as well as this, you can leave out possible combinations... like 2-9-5-1...

• TheKoz (unregistered)

new lockboxes used in my area help to prevent the brute force... http://www.sentrilock.com/lblive/

only the buttons in the right order for the box will open it, 3 wrong tries and it locks out for 60 seconds, and the codes only work for 1 day.

that being said, with the traditional push buttons, the realtor's phone number or the house address are common codes =o(

• BillyTheSquid (unregistered) in reply to db48x
db48x:
It's not ethically questionable at all. It's far better to encourage people to think critically about the security measures that they employ than it is to try to hide this kind of information. Hiding information never works, those people who would abuse it already have it, while the rest of us need to be sure we understand how the technology around us works.

Just because the information is available, and people are made aware of what the issue is, doesn't necessarily mean they'll change.

It's continually proven (especially to those in IT) that people will do the easiest, fastest, and simplest thing, and if they have routine? That wins over all.

There's a style of personality which fears change, whether it be physical (better lock), or mental (don't keep the house number, or year, as the combination, and change the combo from house to @&^*!\$ house for crying out loud! A realtor I deal with has 16 houses for sale, all the same combination)

• Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to MichaelM
MichaelM:
Want to break into a house? Pretend you're interested, take a tour and leave a window unlocked.
Or just put a brick through it like everyone else. But considering this was in the context of real-estate, why the hell would you want to break into an EMPTY house anyways?
• meh (unregistered) in reply to BillyTheSquid
BillyTheSquid:
Just because the information is available, and people are made aware of what the issue is, doesn't necessarily mean they'll change.

-snip-

A realtor I deal with has 16 houses for sale, all the same combination)

If any of those houses get broken into though, the home owner can then point to this website in establishing the realtor's liability for gross negligence.

• William Clark (unregistered) in reply to lupo

• Anonymous (unregistered) in reply to TheKoz
TheKoz:
that being said, with the traditional push buttons, the realtor's phone number or the house address are common codes =o(
The thing with those push button types, even if they've got metal buttons they still tend to wear very slightly with use. So after a while, four out of the ten buttons start to look worn and obviously used. Clearly the combination is made up of these four numbers so you can easily brute force it from this indication. I've used this trick seeveral times (never to break into houses but same principle).
• jimicus (unregistered)

I've seen those things but I don't think I've ever seen a UK estate agent using one. What's wrong with handing a copy of the keys to the estate agent?

• Drew (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous
Anonymous:
MichaelM:
Want to break into a house? Pretend you're interested, take a tour and leave a window unlocked.
Or just put a brick through it like everyone else. But considering this was in the context of real-estate, why the hell would you want to break into an EMPTY house anyways?

A lot of people, when they sell their house, are still living in it. The realtor shows it while they're at work, then they come home and live in it during the night. I know when I was a kid, the realtor would regularly come by when my brother and I were home from school but my parents hadn't gotten home yet.

• mdm (unregistered)

Python (probably very naive!):

```codeLength = 4
l = []
for i in xrange(0, (pow(10, codeLength) - 1)):
s = str(i)
if len(s) < codeLength:
s = ('0' * (codeLength - len(s))) + s
l.append(s)
print "".join(l)
```
meh:
If any of those houses get broken into though, the home owner can then point to this website in establishing the realtor's liability for gross negligence.

Raise your hand if you actually believe that.

• Beta (unregistered) in reply to Anon Ymous
Anon Ymous:
The correct combination turned out to be my house number! Tried it on another house for sale in the neighborhood... success. (I did not enter the house, just tested the code on the box.) I informed the builder selling the houses and they assured me that they take security very seriously.

Some blockheads would consider what you did breaking and entering, and some of those blockheads have badges. Be glad the builder wasn't quite that stupid.

• Medinoc (unregistered)

It's not limited to key lock boxes: My workplace's electronic locks work that way too (which is good, because I often start by entering the code of the wrong floor)

• (cs) in reply to jimicus

Likewise. Assuming these things are hung around the front door handle (as Sentrilock's site illustrates them), what's to stop a criminal walking away with the box and taking it elsewhere to physically break open, then stroll back later with the key to let themselves in?

• Otto (unregistered)

In Mathmatica:

DeBruijnSequence[Range[9999], 4]

But then that's probably too simple.

• Helix (unregistered) in reply to Frank
Frank:
Quite honestly, this is a ethically questionable code challenge.

You're not only revealing how these lock boxes work (Which, yes, would be commonly available information), but you're announcing "to the world" that they're simple to break into, with a solution to how to do it.

Why do I have issue with this? People selling their house have a realtor, who will use lockboxes. For the seller, there's no guarantee that others will use spin-wheel, combination, or push-button lockboxes, and the seller has no say on what will be employed.

You're now telling people how to get a key for doors to houses for people who are selling for one reason or another. Most will not use this information in a negative manner, however, some douche out there will take this information (which might not have been apparent) as an invitation to start ripping people off.

Think about it - you're selling your house. You're not home most of the time (Work), and neighbours are used to seeing people coming and going into your home. And then you find a website which is announcing a contest, for fun, on how to get a key for your house.

Strike anyone else as questionable / bad idea? Tinfoil hat wearer I'm not, I just have issues with other people's ethics (Such as the dick who did this to a friend some months ago)

Nice Troll

Total number of key presses is 10¨4 + 3 = 10003 (length of the De Bruijn sequence B(10,4))...

• (cs)

TRWTF is that these devices are used at all.

What's wrong with the access control system called "give a copy of the key to the realtor, and they keep it at their office when they're not showing the property"?

• Keith Brawner (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous
Anonymous:
MichaelM:
Want to break into a house? Pretend you're interested, take a tour and leave a window unlocked.
Or just put a brick through it like everyone else. But considering this was in the context of real-estate, why the hell would you want to break into an EMPTY house anyways?

I purchased a home recently, and I can say that 2 of the ~50 homes I toured were empty. More common than empty homes were homes with the people at home watching TV. Most homes still contained major appliances and other valuables(big screen TV, personal PC, video game systems, jewelry, etc.). In several cases, the only thing preventing someone from walking off with a fistful of gold was honesty.

Of course, the weakest link point still stands. You can learn lockpicking on your iPhone from the back door (typically not secure-locked) quicker than you can brute-force the entry code.

• Ultimate Security Through Obscurity (unregistered)

One brand of mechanical pushbutton lock I have encountered has the "any order" flaw combined with a "5 digit code always contains 678" flaw, leading to a really easy brute-force.

I'd never use this for evil but I have real trouble restraining myself from trying out of curiosity.

• Joris (unregistered) in reply to Joris

This should be it:

0000100020003000400050006000700080009001 1001200130014001500160017001800190021002 2002300240025002600270028002900310032003 3003400350036003700380039004100420043004 4004500460047004800490051005200530054005 5005600570058005900610062006300640065006 6006700680069007100720073007400750076007 7007800790081008200830084008500860087008 8008900910092009300940095009600970098009 9010102010301040105010601070108010901110 1120113011401150116011701180119012101220 1230124012501260127012801290131013201330 1340135013601370138013901410142014301440 1450146014701480149015101520153015401550 1560157015801590161016201630164016501660 1670168016901710172017301740175017601770 1780179018101820183018401850186018701880 1890191019201930194019501960197019801990 2020302040205020602070208020902110212021 3021402150216021702180219022102220223022 4022502260227022802290231023202330234023 5023602370238023902410242024302440245024 6024702480249025102520253025402550256025 7025802590261026202630264026502660267026 8026902710272027302740275027602770278027 9028102820283028402850286028702880289029 1029202930294029502960297029802990303040 3050306030703080309031103120313031403150 3160317031803190321032203230324032503260 3270328032903310332033303340335033603370 3380339034103420343034403450346034703480 3490351035203530354035503560357035803590 3610362036303640365036603670368036903710 3720373037403750376037703780379038103820 3830384038503860387038803890391039203930 3940395039603970398039904040504060407040 8040904110412041304140415041604170418041 9042104220423042404250426042704280429043 1043204330434043504360437043804390441044 2044304440445044604470448044904510452045 3045404550456045704580459046104620463046 4046504660467046804690471047204730474047 5047604770478047904810482048304840485048 6048704880489049104920493049404950496049 7049804990505060507050805090511051205130 5140515051605170518051905210522052305240 5250526052705280529053105320533053405350 5360537053805390541054205430544054505460 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• Mahall (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous
Anonymous:
TheKoz:
that being said, with the traditional push buttons, the realtor's phone number or the house address are common codes =o(
The thing with those push button types, even if they've got metal buttons they still tend to wear very slightly with use. So after a while, four out of the ten buttons start to look worn and obviously used. Clearly the combination is made up of these four numbers so you can easily brute force it from this indication. I've used this trick seeveral times (never to break into houses but same principle).

You can even break into a new one pretty easily - because the mechanism is pretty cheap, and the stresses are uneven, your can apply tension (by pushing down on the 'open' button) and feel which pin is next.

I figured this out just by playing with one that was lying around for about 15 minutes, and after that, it took me just a couple of minutes to open any other one I came across. Strictly in the spirit of inquiry, of course.

People trusting their house keys to these cheap lock boxes is TRWTF.

• Mike (unregistered)

Yeah, lockboxes aren't very secure. When I was shopping for my home, my real estate agent couldn't open the lock boxes because her nails were too long, so she asked me to open them for her. I quickly realized that all the lockboxes in the city had the same combination.

• Robert Hanson (unregistered)

I worked as a consultant at an office that had a lock like this, requiring 3 digits. They were broken into, so they changed the combo. I had to come in on Saturday, and forgot the combo. So I tried 1-2-3 (try); 1-2-4 (try) ... It took about 5 minutes to open the door. Since it was Saturday, there was no one wandering the halls. I could have broken into any other office on the floor in the same 5 minutes.

These locks provide a sense of security, not actual security.

• D Mann (unregistered) in reply to Anon Ymous

Yes, they are for convenience not security. The father in-law has a realty license and does the occasional transaction. The boxes around here have a wheel with letters on it. The combination is usually S-A-L-E and we confirmed this was the case about 80% of the time when he was arranging showings for us.

• Les (unregistered) in reply to Keith Brawner

The occupant is expecting visitors escorted by an agent. The occupant then often secures those valuables that are easy to make off with.

• Iie (unregistered)

That particular model lock box is super easy to open! Did this myself while I was a kid when I lost my key and my parents were selling the house.

Just put pressure on the release latch and gently prod each of the buttons. The buttons that are loose are not part of the combination. The others are, and it's not so much a sequence of numbers as it's a set of toggles. Release the latch, push all "stiff" buttons, push no "loose" buttons, and the latch will simply open.

• Dary (unregistered)

I must break you.

• Ike (unregistered)

1234? That's the same combination as my luggage!