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Kensington nominated for the 2005 Kryptonite Award

Darren Lightfoot writes about the how easy it is to open a Kensington Microsafe laptop lock. This mirrors the situation with Kryptonite bicycle locks, which it turned out could be opened very easily indeed without even needing any tools. I’m not sure if it’s really that serious, but he’s right that Kensington have to wake up and pay attention.

I think the publicity is being a little unfair to the Kensington product. Using the method described, it still takes a few minutes to get the lock open. A few minutes’ protection is all you can realistically expect from a very simple, lightweight locking system.

All the Kensington lock is good for is to stop opportunist thieves in an open space from simply walking away with the goods. It won’t stop a determined thief. The truth is that anyone with a heavy duty wire-cutters can walk away with a Kensington-locked laptop in seconds. On the other hand, an opportunist thief isn’t going to stand around fiddling for two minutes.

A bicycle lock is a different matter. It’s supposed to be a heavy-duty product, and it’s supposed to be used in situations where there are no people around. You’d expect at least a few minutes protection, or the need to use of heavy equipment.

Still, Darren is right. Kensington have to come out and be honest about what their product is really good for. The company is quite careful about the claims they make on their website, with statements like:

A Kensington MicroSaver? is relatively easy to use and a huge prevention aid, especially to impulse theft. The six-foot cord wraps around an immovable object making it very difficult for it to just “walk away.”

But the company should come straight out of it. Kensington should just state what is obvious to anyone about their product: the Kensington Microsaver Lock will not in itself provide protection against a determined thief.

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